Trump supporters demonstrate against Sanders, April 15, 2019, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders has surged to the front of the polls ahead of Monday's Iowa caucuses. And some of Trump's political advisers say they are doing their best to help him stay there.

Behind the scenes: "We're trying to promote the rise," said a Trump adviser. "The campaign has been pumping up the national messaging behind Bernie, pushing out fundraising emails. When you attack his policies, it gets the media to talk about him."

  • The adviser said that highlighting Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, helps Trump put the whole field of Democrats under a socialist umbrella.
  • But a senior White House official told me that even if they agreed it would be nice to face Sanders in the general election, they were skeptical that the campaign had the capacity to help a Democratic candidate win. "We tried it with Pocahontas and look how that went," the official said.
  • Another senior White House official said the campaign's efforts to elevate Sanders seemed more reactive than strategic.

Between the lines: Trump advisers, including two senior White House officials, told me that elevating Sanders is far from the main reason so many Trump surrogates are going to Iowa. They want to get free media coverage. And it's working, with the Trump team's visit dominating the front page of Iowa's Des Moines Register the week before the caucuses.

  • A Trump adviser told me they plan to do the same for future Democratic primary contests.

Go deeper: Biden surrogates test electability argument ahead of Iowa clash with Sanders

Go deeper

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week
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  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events
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  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
52 mins ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.