It’s Wednesday, February 19. Debate night, Vegas, 9 p.m. ET. See you there.
In today’s newsletter: The behind-the-scenes story of the time Bernie Sanders almost mounted a primary challenge against Barack Obama. Plus: Adam Serwer on the first days of the Trump regime.
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When Bernie Sanders mounted his Senate run in 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama came to Vermont to campaign for him. (TOBY TALBOT / AP)
That Time Bernie Sanders Almost Primaried Barack Obama
Barack Obama isn’t on the ballot, but he’s still a looming presence over the crop of 2020 contenders. Obama is more popular among Democrats than Jesus (yes, really), and every candidate—Bernie Sanders included—has advertised their ties to the former president.
But Bernie and Barack don’t exactly have the warmest of relationships. Though 44 and front-runner-for-46 have both built large political movements within the Democratic Party, Sanders’s democratic socialism is a whole lot different than Obama’s establishment incrementalism.
But what exactly is the source of the bitterness between the two? My colleague Edward-Isaac Dovere has never-before-reported details on the animosity between them—from the time that Sanders nearly mounted a primary challenge to Obama in 2011, to when the two really butted heads a few years later:
The low point between the two men was a 2013 meeting with other Democratic senators. Obama had just put a chained Consumer Price Index in his budget, a proposal that would cut Social Security benefits by tying them to the rate of inflation. Many Senate Democrats were angry about it. But when they arrived for the meeting, it was Sanders who bubbled up, ripping into Obama for giving in to Republicans and not understanding the impact of the cuts.
“I don’t need a lecture,” Obama told him, according to several senators who attended the meeting.