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Courtesy of The Big Tent Project

The Big Tent Project, a Democratic political group focused on promoting moderate presidential candidates, has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers bashing Bernie Sanders to black voters in South Carolina who voted in the state's 2016 primary.

Why it matters: Sanders' rise to the top of the pack, as dueling moderate candidates split their side of the vote, is worrying many in the Democratic political establishment who fear a socialist can't beat President Trump.

  • Sanders' triumph in Nevada, after rising to the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire, creates the very real potential that Sanders will be the Democratic nominee.

What's next: His performance in South Carolina will test whether his appeal with young voters also translates to black voters — and deprives Joe Biden of votes critical to his campaign’s survival.

Courtesy of The Big Tent Project

The details: The mailers, which will go to 215,000 people and cost roughly $100,000, charge that several of Sanders' most ambitious policy proposals — such as free college tuition — are unrealistic and wildly expensive.

  • They also assert that "Trump will crush Bernie on taxes and spending" and conclude: "Nominating Bernie means we re-elect Trump."
  • The Sanders campaign did not respond to requests for a comment.

The big picture: This mailer is one piece of the efforts by Big Tent — a 501(c)(4) — (C4s are able to mask their donors).

  • It has another $700K at its disposal to target various South Carolina voters before the Feb. 29 primary, the last before the multi-state Super Tuesday contests on March 3.
  • Big Tent dropped $200k on two ads in Nevada, Politico first reported, as part of a test run in their campaign to cripple Sanders' ahead of the Feb. 22 caucuses.
  • The group’s executive director is Jonathan Kott, a former top aide to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

6 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.