WOLFEBORO, NH – Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is pushing back against what they call a faulty narrative in the media that the independent senator from Vermont’s White House bid is slipping.
“While you may not know it from recent media coverage, Bernie Sanders is on a positive trajectory in his campaign for president as evidenced by multiple data points,” the campaign argued in a memo released Monday morning.
And, in a conference call with reporters, senior adviser Jeff Weaver specifically took aim at recent reports by CNN, MSNBC and The Washington Post.
Weaver also touted the campaign’s latest fundraising figures – including contributions from 850,000 donors, 2.5 million donations overall, and $27.5 million cash on hand as of July 1, which he highlighted was more than any of the other two dozen candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sanders campaign pollster Ben Tulchin also emphasized repeatedly that the narrative that Sanders is slipping in the polls “is not true.”
Pointing to an analysis of public opinion surveys conducted following last month’s second round of Democratic primary debates by polling website FiveThirtyEight, Tulchin said that a “new independent polling analysis finds that Sanders has gained the most support of any candidate since the second round of debates and is solidly in second place among the field.”
The pushback by the campaign against what they consider a flawed and negative media narrative against their candidate came hours before Sanders returned to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first presidential primary in the race for the White House.
New Hampshire put Sanders on the map four years ago. His crushing defeat of Hillary Clinton in the February 2016 primary made him a media sensation and launched him into a marathon battle against the eventual nominee.
But the 2020 cycle is a whole new ball game – with a record-setting number of Democratic candidates, including many promoting the same progressive proposals that Sanders moved from the fringe to the mainstream of the Democratic Party four years ago.
The first-in-the-nation primary has been considered a must-win state for Sanders, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (which also neighbors New Hampshire). Both candidates have large campaign staffs in the state, as the populist standard-bearers battle for the progressive heart of the Democratic Party.
Recent polling suggested Warren was catching up.
The only post-second round of debate poll conducted in the Granite State put former Vice President Joe Biden – the front-runner in the nomination race – at 21 percent, with Sanders at 17 percent. Warren stood at 14 percent in the Suffolk University poll for the Boston Globe, just 3 percentage points behind Sanders. Everyone else registered in single digits.
At a town hall in Wolfeboro on Monday, a confident Sanders told the crowd, “this time, we’re going to win it.”
And playing to his audience, he emphasized, “I don’t have to tell anybody here how important New Hampshire is. You play a very, very, oversized role... I’m humbled. I admit it.”
Meanwhile, Warren, who's set to return to New Hampshire on Wednesday, has a message that resonates with some former Bernie backers -- like Ron Abramson of Bow, N.H., who was a big Sanders supporter in 2016.
This time around, Abramson, one of New Hampshire’s top immigration attorneys, is backing Warren.
“For me, 2020 is not 2016. I still like, admire and respect Bernie. I appreciate what he’s done, especially in terms of shaping the national conversation and moving certain issues from what seemed to be more of the fringe to within the realm of possibility and mainstream discussion,” Abramson said.
But, he added, “I just felt like this was the time for someone who provided more detail about how to achieve some of these objectives and priorities and may have, in fact, appeal to a broader segment of the electorate.”
Abramson – who hosted a house party for Warren last month – highlighted that he believes Warren “has the ability to appeal to more people, both in terms of the primary and the general.”
But, Burt Cohen, a progressive radio host and former long-time state senator from New Castle, argued that “we really need to win the Midwest and I sense – talking to good friends in that part of the world – that Bernie connects better than Elizabeth Warren does there.”
Sanders has continued to have a large group of very committed supporters. The Sanders steering committee has been meeting monthly since the 2016 election.
Cohen, a member of that steering committee, held off on formally endorsing Sanders until two weeks ago, as he took a long look at the other candidates running for the Democratic nomination.
While he has endorsed Sanders, he added he also was a Warren fan, saying, “I like them both.”
He also admitted that some Sanders supporters in New Hampshire have been concerned about Warren’s growing strength.
Asked if there were worries that Warren was encroaching on Sanders supporters in the Granite State, he succinctly said, “yes.”