Bernie Sanders, Stumping for Democrats, Says Blue Wave in Midterms Is Not Assured

AMES, Iowa — It was hard to miss him at the homecoming parade.

The band was booming. The floats were floating. And there he was — in the middle of it all — hands waving, hair flying.

“Hi, Bernie!” someone shouted from the sidewalk.

“How you doing?” he shouted back.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has not yet announced he is running. But for several blocks in this college town on Sunday afternoon, he was certainly marching.

From the front of a group of Iowa State College Democrats, Mr. Sanders, widely assumed to be preparing another presidential candidacy, inspired cheers and chants, his mere presence whipping up the kind of political excitement this early-voting state knows so well.

But if Democratic euphoria was the theme of the day, Mr. Sanders also sounded a cautionary note about the party’s prospects in the midterm elections on Nov. 6.

“I happen not to believe that there’s going to be this great blue wave,” he said earlier on Sunday at an event in Fort Dodge, in north central Iowa. “I happen to believe that on election night, which party controls the U.S. House will come down to a very few seats.”

In an interview after the parade in Ames, as he finished a sandwich, he elaborated.

“I think that may happen,” he said, about Democrats taking control of Congress. “I’m doing everything I can to make it happen. But one thing I will absolutely guarantee you: It will not happen if people are sitting back and are cocky and talking about how sure they are of winning.”

“I’m just issuing a warning, and that warning is that overconfidence will result in disaster,” he added.

To that end, Mr. Sanders has embarked on a nine-state campaign blitz ahead of the midterm elections, trying to ensure that Democrats get out to vote.

Already, Mr. Sanders had campaigned in Indiana, Michigan and South Carolina. After Iowa, there would be stops in Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado. Later this week he will rally in Nevada with Jacky Rosen, who is running against Dean Heller, the Republicans’ most endangered incumbent in the Senate. Mr. Sanders will end his tour in California.

If the battleground-heavy campaign swing also seems aligned with a potential run for the White House, well, Mr. Sanders says he is focused only on the candidates he wants to help.

In Iowa, for instance, he was campaigning for J.D. Scholten, who is running against Representative Steve King in the state’s northwestern district.

But throughout his weekend in Iowa, it did not appear Mr. Sanders was only thinking about marching.

During events in Fort Dodge and Sioux City over the weekend, Mr. Sanders delivered what sounded very much like his stump speech, with booming lines about “Medicare for All” and a $15 minimum wage. At a rally here, he talked about how important Iowa had been for his presidential run in 2016. In the middle of all of his addresses, he called President Trump a “pathological liar,” drawing raucous applause.

And at the end of the interview, when asked if he was running for president, Mr. Sanders practically beamed. “Um,” he said, after a beat. But he was soon back on message, offering a comment about how he hoped his appearance in Iowa would help flip Mr. King’s seat.

“My job right now, and that is the simple truth,” he said, finally, “is to do everything that I can to see that we end one-party rule in Washington.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*