The New York Times injected some drama into the 2020 Democratic presidential race by reporting that Mayor Pete Buttigieg escalated his attacks on Bernie Sanders by calling his 2016 run a “novelty,” and casting doubt on Sanders’ ability to win this time around.
That’s how NYT reporter Jonathan Martin characterized Buttigieg’s remarks in a tweet promoting his lengthy profile of Beto O’Rourke and Buttigieg campaigning in New Hampshire. The “NEWS,” Martin wrote, is that after suggesting Sanders and Trump “are different sides of same coin,” Buttigieg “escalates” by saying “Bernie lacks the ‘novelty’ he had in ‘16 & doubts he can win general.”
He told me Bernie lacks the “novelty” he had in ‘16 & doubts he can win general
“I have a hard time seeing the coalition…”
First real engagement in top tier
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) April 24, 2019
The piece itself featured these scant quotes from Buttigieg about Bernie:
In an interview, Mr. Buttigieg said Mr. Sanders’s left-wing proposals were no longer as provocative as in 2016 — “people were refreshed by the novelty of that boldness” — and expressed skepticism that a self-described democratic socialist in his late 70s could win a general election.
“I have a hard time seeing the coalition ultimately coming together there,” he said.
Martin notes that Buttigieg’s remarks followed an appearance in Nashua at which he compared Sanders voters to Trump supporters, in what many perceived as a shot at Sanders, including senior Sanders campaign officials.
But so far, Sanders himself has resisted the urge to participate in the apparent feud. Instead, his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, responded with a statement that “trumpeted the senator’s populist record and said his ‘unifying progressive agenda’ made him ‘the best-positioned candidate to defeat Donald Trump in the general election.’”
As feuds and “escalations” go, this isn’t exactly Itchy v. Scratchy, but in a political world thirsty for drama, it will have to do for now.
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