On early Wednesday afternoon the Sanders campaign decided on an event meant to tease. They put out an intentionally vague press statement that the Senator would speak from his Vermont base at 1pm.
Those of us in political media held our breaths and started to write the story of his departure from the campaign, before he announced it, to get a jump on our media rivals. Sanders, no doubt laughing inside, solemnly told the assembled multitude that…nothing had changed. He was staying in.
So no news to cover. But the underlying play is very much news.
What Sanders did, at the expense of the media, is send a political hookergram to the Biden campaign. It said, in effect, look what you can have if you pay the right price.
For the hour or so that the news was out about Sanders’ imminent statement, guaranteed the Biden campaign was exchanging high fives and picking out the drapes in their West Wing offices. But then Bernie pulls the rug out and sends them crashing back to terra firma. He almost gives, then he taketh away. That’s what he can to do Biden now and in November. He wanted to remind them of that and indeed he did.
However, the question remains: When he gets out, and he eventually will before the convention if he plays his cards right, what will spark the decision and what does he want for his endorsement?
Sanders already knows he can’t win the Milwaukee nod. So he’s in it at this point for the long game of influence and kingmaking. He’s probably given himself a deadline, I’m thinking June 1st. Maybe sooner. If he pulls a comeback and is again viable he stays in. If the present situation stays as it is, he leaves and, under the banner of beating Trump, endorses Biden.
The price? Hard to say. The Senate is more fun than the cabinet. Bernie’s not the ambassadorial type. No, no way. Not…veep? The party would rebel. But, against whom? The very same PC types who will demand a woman on the ticket are also very possibly Sanderistas. Will they take their hero in lieu of a woman on the ticket?
And if it happened, it wouldn’t be the first time a communist-adoring socialist ran for veep on the Democrat ticket. Once before, in 1940, one ran…and won. More on that in a future piece.