Feb 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Clyburn: Sanders' "socialist" label will be "extra burden" in House races

Jim Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist may be an "extra burden" in down-ballot House races if he were to win the Democratic nomination.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments echo fears from many establishment Democrats, who worry the House majority they won in 2018 by taking moderate seats carried by President Trump could be at risk with Sanders at the top of the ticket.

What he's saying:

"I think it would be a real burden for us in these states or congressional districts that we have to do well in. If you look at how well we did the last time, and look at the congressional districts, these were not liberal or what you might call progressive districts. These were basically moderate and conservative districts that we did well in. And in those districts, it's going to be tough to hold on to these jobs if you have to make the case for accepting a self-proclaimed democratic socialist."
— Jim Clyburn

What to watch: Clyburn, known as a Democratic kingmaker in South Carolina, said he will announce his endorsement for president on Wednesday, after the South Carolina debate.

The big picture: Sanders, the front-runner in the Democratic primary, has had to defend the label amid doubts about whether a democratic socialist can defeat President Trump.

  • Sanders defended his position at last week's Nevada debate: "We are living, in many ways, in a socialist society right now. Problem is, as Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us, we have socialism for the very rich, rugged individualism for the poor."

The other side: Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short said on "Fox News Sunday" that the Trump campaign is looking forward to a Trump-Sanders presidential race this fall.

  • "I think it would show a stark contrast between a president who's had unemployment rates at 3.5% and has created more than 7 million jobs versus a candidate who I think continues to embrace socialism," Short said.

Go deeper

Bernie Sanders' big socialism rebrand

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Bernie Sanders is trying to rebrand socialism in the U.S., but he'll have to overcome common fears about what the word means — fears the Trump campaign is watching and waiting to exploit.

Why it matters: Sanders may face a major challenge in convincing Americans in their 40s or older that there's a meaningful difference between what he supports, described as democratic socialism, and the authoritarian socialism that we've seen in regimes like Venezuela.

Rep. Clyburn: DNC should "step in" for Biden after Tuesday's contests

Biden shakes hands with Clyburn on Feb. 26 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) called for the Democratic National Committee to pave the way for Vice President Joe Biden to win the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, NPR reports.

What's happening: Biden is the projected winner of the Democratic presidential primary in Michigan, the biggest contest of the night, as well as in Mississippi and Missouri. Voters are still casting ballots in Idaho, North Dakota, and Washington.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sanders insists Democrats will unite around eventual nominee

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday dismissed claims from some Democrats that it would be difficult to unite the party around him, insisting on ABC's "This Week" that the "threat" that President Trump poses will rally Democratic voters and leaders to support the eventual nominee.

What he's saying: "At the end of the day, I have known Joe Biden for a very long time. He is a decent guy. I have no doubt that if I win, Joe will be there. If Joe ends up winning, I will be there. We are going to come together and President Obama in my view — he has said this — will play a leading role in helping whoever the Democratic nominee is."