Election 2020

Will Dem Leaders Be on Board with Bernie's Big Tent?

Will Dem Leaders Be on Board with Bernie's Big Tent?
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is campaigning for a pro-life Democrat in Nebraska, and while congressional Dem leaders weren’t ready to condemn his big-tent push they were quick to defend an abortion-rights platform.

Sanders has been stumping with Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello, a state senator who attracted the former presidential candidate’s support on the DNC’s unity tour focusing on red and purple states.

NARAL Pro-Choice America slammed Sanders and DNC Chairman Tom Perez for spending time with Mello, saying it was “not only disappointing, it is politically stupid.”

“Today’s action makes this so-called ‘fight back tour’ look more like a throw-back tour for women and our rights,” said NARAL president Ilyse Hogue.

Sanders countered that it’s politically smart to engage different wings of Democrats if they don’t want to count out the red states.

“If we’re going to become a 50-state party, if you’re going to go to Omaha, Nebraska, which has a Republican governor, two Republican senators, all Republican congresspeople, Republican legislature, you know what? And if in Omaha, 5,000 or 6,000 people come out to a rally led by Jane Kleeb, their new Democratic chairperson, who is doing a great job, and if you have a rally in which you have the labor movement and the environmentalists and Native Americans and the African-American community and the Latino community coming together, saying, we want this guy to become our next mayor, should I reject going there to Omaha?” Sanders told CBS on Sunday.

“I don’t think so. It was a great rally, and I hope very much he wins. And, by the way, his opponent, his opponent, the incumbent mayor, is also, of course, anti-choice. And she is inviting Scott Walker, one of the most reactionary anti-choice governors, anti-labor governor, anti-education governors, to campaign for her,” he added. “The choice is clear. And I hope very much the Democratic candidate there wins.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was asked on CNN today if Sanders has the right idea to embrace pro-life Democratic candidates.

“Look, I am vigorously pro-choice,” she replied. “And what I want to make clear is at the federal level, we may be in a fight over this before the end of the week. Remember, the Republicans over and over and over keep sticking back in that they want to defund Planned Parenthood, that they want to make the decisions about what kind of health care women are going to get access to.”

Pressed further on whether she’ll accept a big-tent strategy, Warren said, “I understand where I am and that not all my colleagues agree with me and not everybody who is a Democrat agrees with me. And that’s OK with me. We got to have people in, but we’ve got to be in the fight.”

“And I am in the fight on choice,” she added. “I am in the fight on economics, because I think this is the heart of where we are as a party.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked on Sunday’s Meet the Press about individual views on abortion and “what should make somebody a Democrat and not a Democrat.”

Pelosi first tried to brush the question over the DNC, then said “of course” Democrats can be pro-life.

“I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive, my family would say, aggressive position on promoting a woman’s right to choose,” Pelosi said.

“But what you asked as the first part of the question before you went off, was about what unifies Democrats. And what unifies — people say to me all the time, oh, you’re — you do such a good job unifying the House Democrats,” she continued. “I say I don’t. Our values unify us. We are unified with our commitment to America’s working families, about job creation, about budget policies that invest in the future, good-paying jobs.”