LA Times: How Obama And ‘A Threat From Mars’ Are Uniting The Party Behind Hillary Clinton
Originally posted at LA Times by Christi Parsons and Evan Halper.
After all the worrying among Democrats about Bernie Sanders and his supporters going rogue in the general election and refusing to rally behind a nominee who embodies the establishment politics they detest, those concerns are fading rapidly as the presidential primaries wind to a close.
Unity does not look nearly as elusive for the party this year as it did at the end of the bitter primary campaign in 2008, and it is in no small part because the two candidates who went through the bruising process then found themselves in the middle of it again this year. President Obama and Hillary Clinton were determined to see it go more smoothly this time.
The two painstakingly planned how to go about drawing in Sanders supporters before the nomination race was even over. It helped that they had Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), herself a leader of the progressive movement like Sanders, to go along with them. And it helped even more that the alternative to Clinton in November is Donald Trump, a Republican candidate who horrifies even the most steadfast Clinton skeptics on the left.
“Nothing unites the people of Earth like a threat from Mars,” said Paul Begala, a longtime advisor to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, now the strategist for the main super PAC seeking to elect her. “To Democrats, Donald Trump is not just in a parade of conservative Republicans they disagree with. They view him, rightly, as a bigot.
Still, both Obama and Clinton were acutely aware that they could not rely on Trump to bring the party together for them. One White House official had, earlier this year, identified the task of unifying Democrats as a “foundational concern” for Obama. He sees a united front as key to victory; he relied on the support of 90% of voters registered in his party to win reelection. Ninety percent of Republicans, by contrast, voted for Mitt Romney. It was the first time both parties supported their nominees at such levels, and it suggested little room for slippage.
“It’s simple arithmetic,” Begala said. Clinton “can’t win without Sen. Sanders’ supporters.”
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