Bernie Sanders zeros in on Joe Biden as his favorite foil

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., answers questions during a presidential forum held by She The People in April on the Texas State University campus in Houston.

With more than 20 people seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination so far, it might be a challenge for some to stand out in the crowd. A few Vermonters who’ve endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid have some ideas on how he might succeed.

Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman was an early supporter of Sanders, having endorsed both his 2016 and 2020 runs.

Zuckerman said in an interview Thursday what voters will like about Sanders is that he’s been talking about the same issues over the course of his long political career.

“When someone tries to criticize him for something he said 20 years ago, it just ends up showing he’s been consistent,” said Zuckerman, adding that many have become fairly cynical about politicians changing their minds.

“What they see in Bernie is someone who’s been campaigning for these issues since before they became popular,” he said.

He said it’s likely that over the next few months, the field will slim down a bit. What does concern Zuckerman is if it remains a bloated race for a long stretch of time, voters might turn toward candidates considered to be more part of the establishment, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, who announced his candidacy in April.

Zuckerman said an establishment candidate isn’t going to excite people as much, which is what he feels happened in 2016 with Hillary Clinton’s campaign against then-candidate Donald Trump.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said Thursday he’s endorsed Sanders’ candidacy, but it’s impossible to predict how the race will turn out. Welch said things have changed a great deal in American politics since 2016. Many Democratic presidential hopefuls have adopted Sanders’ positions and priorities, and the Sanders campaign has learned much from its initial 2016 run.

He said what many Democratic voters will be looking for in a candidate is someone who can defeat Trump.

The Sanders campaign, since 2016, has had time to reach out to African American voters and other groups who hadn’t heard his name much in the past.

Jeff Weaver, senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, said in an interview Friday that given this is Sanders’ second run on the national stage, he can spend less time introducing himself to people and more time articulating his policy platforms. Weaver said he thinks people will appreciate that Sanders has been advocating for these goals for a long time, longer than other candidates he’s running against.

Weaver said the only way to beat Trump is for the Democrats to nominate a candidate that excites voters, which he says Sanders does.

keith.whitcomb @rutlandherald.com

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