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Bernie Sanders Is Thinking He Will Win It All in 2020

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That’s the case Sanders and his aides have been making as they’ve undertaken an outreach effort unlike anything from the last campaign, spending hours on phone calls, trying to talk political leaders down from being completely opposed to him. They have a basic script: start out asking where the support for Sanders is among their constituents, then ask why they think those people support him, and then ask the leaders to explain their own skepticism.

There’s evidence the effort is working. Two weeks ago at the National Action Network conference in New York, the Reverend Al Sharpton recounted a lunch in Harlem that he’d had with Sanders late into the 2016 primaries, full of promises for more attention and outreach.

“I want you to know that he has done what he said,” Sharpton told the crowd. “The term’s not over, this is not the finals. But so far you get a passing grade.”

So, Sharpton said, he was ready to take Sanders seriously. “Before when he said it, it sounds like a dream. Now people are saying, wait a minute, we’ll see,” Sharpton said, welcoming him onto stage.

The audience, made up of black activists who were largely seen as the kind of voters most opposed to Sanders in the last campaign, cheered as he walked up, and stayed with him even as he delivered the same stump speech, screaming into the microphone, as he does at nearly every stop.

Sanders and his aides believe that he’s already dispatched whatever questions over his record and background will come, given what was litigated in his 2016 race. He’s taken open questions from reporters a total of one time so far in his two months on the trail, while other candidates take them constantly. He’s mostly dropped talking about his life story, after all the fanfare his campaign stoked at his launch by saying that was going to be a new theme of this run. He’s driven Democratic insiders crazy by agreeing to the Fox town hall a few weeks ago, providing cover just at the moment when the channel was facing a growing boycott over controversial comments by host Tucker Carlson.

Yes, there was a band of young white guys in hockey jerseys playing a song about “cosmic dust” ahead of the Pittsburgh rally and staffing tables of merchandise with Sanders as a Sesame Street character and “Let it FUCKING Bern” written over a picture of a marijuana leaf. But there was also an operation that included a bus for traveling press, orange webbing over bicycle gates to keep the press from interacting with the crowd once they arrived, and staff to track attendees on iPads and hand out blue and white campaign signs to wave while he spoke.

John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania lieutenant governor who supported Sanders in 2016 and was endorsed by Sanders in his own race last year, is staying neutral for now and wasn’t at the Pittsburgh rally.

But he said he didn’t believe that the Bernie or Bust movement would survive if the nomination doesn’t go his way.

“Any Democrat that is not going to get behind and rally whoever the nominee is, I just don’t know what world they’re living in,” Fetterman said. “They might be fired up, they might be in the heat of the moment. But that’s my base. I don’t believe that my base would not go for round two if Bernie’s not the nominee.”

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