- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2016

Democratic Party activists say the enduring strength of Bernard Sanders‘ presidential bid and the vitriol erupting between his supporters and Hillary Clinton’s have transformed the Vermont senator into a powerbroker who must be appeased — perhaps by making him the vice presidential pick.

With only a handful of contests remaining, and Mrs. Clinton slowly closing in on the nomination, she has to figure out how to bring Mr. Sanders‘ followers into the fold and tap into the energy and excitement of their political movement at the Democratic Party convention this summer.

“The point is how is she going to get momentum coming out of that convention,” said Democratic strategist David “Mudcat” Saunders. “It’s hard as hell to get momentum if you’ve been around, if you’re an old pony.”

Tapping Mr. Sanders could do the trick or, at the very least, she will be forced to adopt some of his far-left agenda, he said.

Either way, she must get Mr. Sanders on board for the fight this fall against likely Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“The Democrats are split more than the Republicans,” said Mr. Sanders.

The violent rift in the party broke into the open at the Nevada Democratic convention Saturday in Las Vegas, where Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters clashed when party officials were skewing the rules to award her more delegates.

As party chairmen announced the delegate tallies, several dozen Sanders supporters rushed the stage. They shouted “this is fixed” and hurled insults. Some chairs were thrown across the convention floor, according to reports.

Mrs. Clinton defeated Mr. Sanders in the Nevada caucuses 52 percent to 47 percent. At the convention, the state’s 35 pledged delegates were divvied up 20 for Mrs. Clinton and 15 for Mr. Sanders.

The proceedings at the Paris Las Vegas casino dragged on late into the night. Authorities eventually informed the convention organizers they could no longer provide security necessary to handle the crowd and the hall was cleared.

Democratic Party officials in other states and in Washington had to worry that the Las Vegas ruckus was a bad omen for upcoming conventions.

Mr. Sanders is riding a two-state winning streak into Democratic primaries Tuesday in Oregon and Kentucky, where Mrs. Clinton is battling fiercely to break his momentum.

Campaigning in Louisville, Kentucky, Mrs. Clinton kept her fire aimed at Mr. Trump and his vow to stop illegal immigration by building a wall on the border with Mexico.

“We need a president who will work every single day to make life better for American families,” Mrs. Clinton told a crowd at a union training center. “We want somebody who can protect us and work with the rest of the world. Not talk about building walls, but building bridges.”

There has been no polling in Kentucky, but the state is problematic for Mrs. Clinton because it has a relatively small black population, where she often finds strong support, and a large coal industry, which she has alienated with an anti-coal agenda to combat climate change.

The only recent poll in Oregon showed Mrs. Clinton with a double-digit lead. But the state is a bastion for liberal politics and has an overwhelming white population, two ingredients that usually favor Mr. Sanders.

However, both states have closed primaries that tend to challenge Mr. Sanders because of his popularity among independent voters.

Mrs. Clinton has been forced to move further and further to the left throughout the primaries as Mr. Sanders‘ message increasingly resonated with voters and helped deliver him wins in key states, although not enough to surpass the former secretary of state in the delegate hunt.

Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist who has always caucused with Democrats, has run on an agenda that includes a $15 federal minimum wage, expanded Social Security benefits, a Medicare-for-all universal healthcare program and free tuition for public universities.

Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Sanders by about 300 pledged delegates. She also enjoys an overwhelming lead with superdelegates, elected officials and party leaders, who can chose which candidate to support regardless of the vote in their states.

Mr. Sanders has vowed to take his campaign all the way to the convention. He has a long-shot chance of winning a majority of pledged delegates and then pressuring superdelegates to bow to the popular vote.

“We don’t believe the game is over,” said Charles Chamberlain, spokesman for the liberal activist group Democracy for America, which is backing Mr. Sanders.

Still, he said that regardless of what happens between now and the July convention in Philadelphia, Mrs. Clinton will have to appease Mr. Sanders‘ supporters.

“We have to make sure the Democratic nominee doesn’t run away from the political revolution,” said Mr. Chamberlain.


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