Bernie Sanders makes strategic changes, but his desire to control remains



He will speak for himself, at least if his advisers have their means. His main collaborators are not just white men. And unlike the last time, when he enjoyed playing the role of the insurgent before a politician supported by an institution, Senator Bernie Sanders now looks forward as a leader.

In 2016, Mr. Sanders had no choice but to run the race of an outsider – disorganized, decentralized and improvised. But as the Vermont senator formally begins his second presidential candidacy with an appearance in his homeland, Brooklyn, on Saturday, it is obvious that, at the very least, he is trying to launch another type of campaign.

Yet, even as he builds a more sophisticated and modern organization, Sanders' iconoclasm and his possessiveness to his kind of democratic socialism have created turmoil in his own ranks. His team of media consultants abruptly stopped this week after the senator and his wife, Jane, expressed their dissatisfaction with the advisor's elegant announcement, deeming it unauthentic, and instead had booked a Vermont studio to record a simple video of almost 11 minutes. Mr. Sanders himself wrote, according to many Democratic officials familiar with the matter.

The confrontation was a reminder that Mr. Sanders, who was in his first campaign for a position in Burlington, Vermont, had always traced his own political path. During interviews last week, his aides and advisers said the 77-year-old Independent had agreed to certain strategic changes while he was trying to convince a party that, at the time, 39, Trump's era, was not specifically focused on economic inequality.

His campaign aims to capitalize on the elements that have made Mr. Sanders a phenomenon in 2016 – large crowds, a small dollar fundraising army – but also to more visibly match an electoral moment defined by the US. inclusion, identity and problems related to both.

According to collaborators and advisers, a central element of the plan is to persuade Mr. Sanders to reveal more of his personal story, beginning with the gathering in Brooklyn, near the apartment where he grew up under rent control, son of a Jewish immigrant, and Sunday in Chicago, where he went to university and joined the protests for civil rights.

The rallies, which Sanders hopes will be close, will allow him to present his education – something he has long resisted – in the context of how he shaped the policy issues that voters know so well, breathing fresh air new to his everyday life. message and giving voters a new window about who he is and what he represents.

"It was not his practice in the past, he is much more focused on the ideas and policies he stands for," said Jeff Weaver, director of Sanders' campaign in 2016 and still his most trusted advisor. close, during an interview. "But when you run for president, you do not just elect a pile of policy documents."

The strategists of Mr. Sanders are well aware that the beginning of his race could offer him the best opportunity to strengthen his supporters and quickly establish him as the candidate to beat. The new approach could also help to compete with opponents such as Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom have made their original stories a key part of their message. And that might satisfy voters who want a deeper connection with their officials.

Other changes are also underway in the campaign. Following the promise of advisors to ensure a more diverse workforce than in 2016, especially in the highest ranks, Sanders hired a new campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, a former member of the company ACLU Political director and the first Muslim to have ever conducted a presidential campaign, as well as a new political director, Analilia Mejia, a progressive activist. The campaign also announced the appointment of a new group of co-chairs, including Nina Turner, Sanders-aligned group president, Our Revolution, and Carmen Yulín Cruz, Mayor of San Juan.

"One of the biggest differences," said Chuck Rocha, Sanders Senior Advisor, "is that we are very committed to making this campaign reflect the face of America and the fabric of our country."

Only days after the start of Sanders' second run, his contempt for the politics and tactics of the dominant political parties concealed a $ 10 million deployment in the first week of the campaign.

Last Monday, the day before he took office, Mr. Sanders arrived in a Burlington studio with a script of the announcement that he had created himself, which reflected his long-running speech. "Our campaign is about taking charge of the powerful vested interests that dominate our economic and political life," he said, speaking in front of a screen with the image of a stacked library.

Mark Longabaugh, Julian Mulvey and Tad Devine – Sanders' media consultants and three of his best race advisers in 2016 – were only informed at the last minute of the program change and were enraged , according to Democrats directly aware of the episode. They had produced a much shorter video with a higher production value.

But Mr. Sanders and his wife did not like the way he appeared in the video and were worried about content that was not faithful to his no-nonsense message, said the Democrats.

Sanders' instinct has served them well, at least as far as the reception of this message by his supporters is concerned: an explosive e-mail on the day of his announcement with the text of the self-advertisement provoked a reaction enthusiastic. Although the ad did not contain any direct fundraising requests, she helped Sanders raise a record $ 6 million on the first day of his campaign.

But this marked a humiliation for his consultants, who leave after concluding that Mr. Sanders was unwilling to hold them accountable.

It is unclear how much Mr. Sanders will ultimately bow to the wishes of his current advisers. But his new team sees a huge opportunity in his two rallies this weekend – platforms to present many and varied crowds of fans, who could answer questions that concern him since 2016 about his appeal to non-whites .

And although his rally in Brooklyn is kind of a homecoming, it's also a chance for him to play an aggressive piece for young urban white people at the same time as another of their favorites, Beto O & Rourke, should enter. the race.

Even if recognizing his biography would be a change for a senator who has long refused to say anything about his life. But his advisers are banking on the fact that this could help him stand out from the many candidates, many of whom support the policies that made him unique in 2016.

At his gathering in Brooklyn, Sanders should at least remember the years when he played stickball on the street and where his parents' arguments about money were commonplace. In Chicago, his advisers hope he will talk about his activism for civil rights, including the way he was arrested at a protest on the south side.

But above all, the rallies will show how much Sanders, whose message has remained largely the same throughout his political career, is ready to evolve, if at all. The closest people to the senator recognize that he is unlikely to change even though he recognizes the importance of sharing his personal story.

"According to him, its importance is his policy – what he sees can happen in America in a radically better and different way than it has been," said Larry Sanders, his older brother, at A telephone interview this week. "It's his central goal."

Former Sanders, who now lives in Oxford, England, recalled elements of his brother's life that could have an impact on voters. Summers at Ten Mile River scout camp outside the city. Bagels and lox from Sunday morning. "I've always been convinced," he says, "that there is a lot of Brooklyn in Bernard."

Some who know Mr. Sanders are not convinced that he insists on his biography this weekend, despite the tweaks. Sanders' ties with the borough since he left after a year at Brooklyn College are somewhat tenuous. Although his accent betrays his origins, he spent his entire political career in Vermont, which he often remembers the winter climate during the election campaign.

Even though Mr. Sanders speaks more of himself, his contest presents new challenges that his own biography can not help but compose.

"At the end of the day, he's still an old white man," said Tracy Sefl, Democratic strategist. "So, there are many other things he wants to talk about in addition to these parts of his identity."


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