Will the 2020 presidential election be Donald Trump vs. Bernie Sanders?
According to a new report from Politico, Sanders took the first step to making that match-up a reality when he assembled a team in Washington D.C. and discussed a potential 2020 run.
Bernie Sanders convened his top political advisers in Washington on Saturday for a planning meeting that included a discussion of the feasibility and shape of a possible 2020 presidential campaign, half a dozen senior Democrats familiar with the gathering confirmed to POLITICO.
The top-line message the Vermont senator received from the operatives gathered during the government shutdown was a more formal version of the one they’ve been giving him regularly for months: You would be one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination. And if you want to run, it’s time to start seriously planning accordingly.
Sanders has yet to confirm whether or not he is anticipating to run for the next presidential election.
The report cites Sanders as saying, “I haven’t yet made a decision about 2020, but I still think beating Donald Trump is the most important thing for this country. And I want to be ready if I do decide to run.”
The meeting included several topics, Politico reports, not just the 2020 component:
Sanders regularly speaks with a close group of advisers and periodically brings top allies in to discuss his political maneuvers, but Saturday’s get-together included planning for the rest of 2018 as well as a specifically slated 2020 component, said Democrats familiar with the session scheduled for the one year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. Part of the discussion included gaming out how the rest of the field might look, since 2016’s landscape — effectively pitting Sanders directly against Hillary Clinton — was far more straightforward than the expected 2020 free-for-all.
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Multiple Democrats close to Sanders insisted that the meeting was not solely a 2020 planning session, and that the conversation was one in a series of talks that he frequently has with aides and associates in regular, less formal sessions. But they all acknowledged that this gathering was larger than the rest, and that it included a pre-planned discussion of the next presidential race.
Sanders’ campaign manager and top political adviser Jeff Weaver said, “The senator is extremely focused on making sure the Democrats win in 2018 and that is the primary goal right now: to retake the House and retake the Senate so we can stop this horrendous Trump agenda.”
Here’s who reportedly attended the meeting:
Along with Sanders, participants in the meeting included Weaver, while Sanders’ wife Jane called in on the phone. Nina Turner, the Ohio state senator-turned-president of Our Revolution, Sanders’ post-campaign political organization, was there too.
Veteran Democratic strategists and ad makers Mark Longabaugh and Julian Mulvey were in attendance after playing central roles in shaping the 2016 campaign, as was California-based pollster Ben Tulchin, who Sanders brought into the fold in 2015 after launching his last campaign.
Among the other attendees were senior Sanders senate adviser Ari Rabin-Havt, online fundraising guru Tim Tagaris, political adviser Chuck Rocha, and former Sanders communications aide Arianna Jones.
The report notes that more than 30 Democrats are currently considering a run to challenge Trump in the 2020 election. Sanders declaring whether or not he will run could have an impact on that list.