CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Democratic foes have unleashed a torrent of attacks on presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders on the debate stage in Charleston, South Carolina.
Just four days before South Carolina’s primary, the Tuesday night debate could be their final prime-time opportunity to change the direction of the 2020 nomination fight.
Billionaire Mike Bloomberg took some shots, too, and the moderates in the middle strained to be the one survivor who might stick with Sanders through the spring.
Sanders was undismayed by the new attention, negative though it was. Per the Associated Press, he lashed back throughout the night, pointing to polls that showed him beating the Republican president and noting all the recent attention he’s gotten: “I’m hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight. I wonder why?”
That’s alarming among those in the party who see Sanders as too liberal to defeat President Donald Trump.
The new wave of infighting came as Democrats met for the party’s 10th — and perhaps most consequential — debate of the 2020 primary season.
Bloomberg was the focus last week for his highly anticipated debut, but after a bad performance that froze his momentum, the knives are out for the 78-year-old Vermont senator.
No fewer than three Sanders rivals – former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg – unleashed paid attack ads against the Vermont senator for the first time on the eve of Tuesday night’s debate in Charleston, South Carolina.
And several outside groups traditionally aligned with Democrats worked to undermine Sanders’ standing with key constituencies.
For a majority of Democratic voters, going back to the days before Donald Trump isn’t good enough.
In Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, the first three states to weigh in, voters have elevated the candidate promising the biggest departure from the politics of the past — not necessarily the clearest path to defeating President Donald Trump or a restoration of the Obama era.
After fighting to a draw in Iowa, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who bills himself as the leader of a revolution, bested candidates in New Hampshire and Nevada promising a restoration of the pre-Trump era and those who focus mainly on their electability.
Bernie Sanders’ ascendance in the Democratic presidential primary has brought louder calls for some of his rivals to drop out of the race.
The argument is that centrists need to consolidate their support behind a single candidate if they want to ensure the party doesn’t nominate a democratic socialist, that someone needs to take one for the team.
But so far those candidates’ resounding answer has been “no way.”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said during a stop in Arkansas the day after she came in sixth in Nevada that dropping out was “not even a close call” for her.
African Americans in South Carolina are divided over their choice for Saturday’s Democratic presidential primary.
Many older African Americans are casting their lot with former Vice President Joe Biden, but they aren’t totally unified in their support.
College students seem to be inclined to fall in behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but they’re not quite unanimous either.
The generational split among black voters in South Carolina parallels the divide seen among whites and Latinos in early contests, with Sanders polling stronger among younger voters.