Trump uses DNC email leak to court Sanders fans

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Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump. (Photos: Nancy Wiechec/Reuters; Chuck Burton/AP)
Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump. (Photos: Nancy Wiechec/Reuters; Chuck Burton/AP)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is exploiting a rocky day for the Democratic National Committee to reach out to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters who feel their candidate didn’t get a fair shake in the primaries.

On Friday, just days before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 emails that suggest DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other party leaders preferred presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Sanders — despite repeated claims of impartiality.

The following morning, Trump used the controversy as a way to extend an olive branch to Sanders’ supporters, who are far more liberal but generally agree that the political process is rigged to support establishment candidates.

The DNC emails contain embarrassing exchanges in which DNC top brass mock Sanders’ campaign, think up anti-Sanders narratives, and apparently consider using Sanders’ religious beliefs to minimize his support. (Though raised Jewish, Sanders is not particularly interested in organized religion.)

For many of Sanders’ supporters, the emails confirmed what they had been saying all along: that the national party had treated Sanders unfairly and viewed his upstart campaign as a threat from the beginning. On Saturday morning, #DNCleak was trending on social media with more than 300,000 tweets.

Trump made a similar appeal to stalwart Sanders fans on Thursday while accepting the GOP’s presidential nomination at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

“I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders — he never had a chance,” he said. “But his supporters will join our movement, because we will fix his biggest issue: trade.”

Trump also cited Sanders’ past criticism of Clinton’s judgment while arguing that the world is less safe after her stint as secretary of state under President Obama.

“Her bad instincts and her bad judgment — something pointed out by Bernie Sanders — are what caused the disasters unfolding today,” he said.

And the WikiLeaks revelation was not the only news to disturb the already uneasy peace between Sanders’ fans and the DNC ahead of next week’s convention.

Clinton announced that she had chosen Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, a relatively centrist Democrat, for her running mate in a text message to supporters Friday night.

“I’m thrilled to tell you this first: I’ve chosen Sen. Tim Kaine as my running mate. Welcome him to our team,” she wrote.

Kaine is from a swing state and has a wealth of foreign policy experience, but he definitely does not come from the leftist, Sanders’ wing of the Democratic Party. Kaine supported trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fiercely criticized by Sanders, and the Virginia senator has expressed a personal opposition to abortion.

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore was among those who bemoaned the Kaine pick. He said Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to fire up the conservative base whereas Clinton’s pick played it safe.

And, just as he did with the DNC email leak, Trump pounced on the Kaine choice as a way to reach out to disaffected Sanders voters.


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