Former Campaign Manager Says Bernie Sanders Is Still the 'New' Voice America Needs

December 17, 2018

By Chloe Aiello

As 2020 approaches, one question is dominating the Democratic Party: Who can defeat President Trump? According to Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager of Bernie Sanders' 2016 bid for the White House, Americans want someone new. And that "new" voice is still his old boss.

"I think most Americans agree that we need to replace the president with someone who can bring us together, who can meet the needs of working families and marginalized communities ー and Trump's obviously not only not doing that, he's tearing this country apart," Weaver told Cheddar on Monday.

Americans "want somebody new," he said.

"Who is that person? I've been pretty clear about my view on that," Weaver said. In fact, the last three words of his book, "How Bernie Won," are "Run, Bernie, run."

The Vermont Democrat hasn't yet decided whether or not he will throw his hat into the 2020 ring, although Weaver said he is "actively considering it."

In the event he does enter the race, Weaver said Sanders has learned substantive lessons from his 2016 campaign that his team will apply to 2020. "I think this time we have a much better sense of how to ... put together a winning campaign," he said.

Specifically, he said they would put campaign workers on the ground in key states earlier in the race. He said they also plan to build a bigger and more diverse team.

Weaver acknowledged that the crowded Democratic slate for 2020 will pose new challenges. Roughly 30 Democratic candidates are thought to be toying with a bid for the White House, including veterans like former Vice President Joe Biden and newcomers like Beto O'Rourke.

A recent Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll of likely participants in the Iowa caucuses found Sanders in second place in a hypothetical field, ahead of O'Rourke but behind Biden.

Some of Sanders' rockstar status has been eclipsed by O'Rourke, whose unsuccessful campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz for a U.S. Senate seat still catapulted him to national fame. Meanwhile, like Sanders, Biden comes with a blend of longtime Washington experience and a progressive platform.

But Weaver said it "is healthy for the Democratic Party to have this broad range of voices," so long as the process is open and fair.

Weaver also does not begrudge other Democrats the progressive stances that Sanders championed in 2016.

"Other candidates have gravitated to those positions. I think that's fantastic, I think to the extent that we can move the discussion in the primary process around a progressive agenda ... I think that's a very healthy debate to have," Weaver said.

Sanders may have worked up a devoted following in 2016, but if he runs again in 2020, Weaver said the campaign wouldn't take that popularity for granted.

"I don't think anybody running can take anyone running for granted. Each time you go out, you're going to have to go out and make your case again to the American people," he said.

For full interview click here.