Yesterday I noted that, on Tuesday night, Jeff Weaver was crystal clear about the Sanders’ endgame when he talked with Steve Kornacki: even if Clinton leads in pledged delegates and the popular vote at the end of the primaries, they will spend the weeks prior to the Democratic convention attempting to flip the support of superdelegates to vote for Sanders. As implausible as that sounds (and contrary to most everything Bernie Sanders stands for), Weaver stuck to his guns on this as the strategy of the campaign.
On the other hand, Tad Devine has sounded a different note – suggesting that the campaign would re-assess after the five primaries next Tuesday. In talking to Rachel Maddow last night, he continued with that approach.
The superdelegates are there. We’re gonna work hard to earn their support. I think we’ll be able to do that if we succeed. Listen, the key test is succeeding with voters. In 2008 I wrote a piece that they published in the New York Times right after Super Tuesday. And I argued that superdelegates should wait, should look, and listen to what the voters do and follow the will of the voters. And I can tell you I got a lot of pushback from the Clinton campaign at the time, you know, when I published that piece. But I believe that today, that our superdelegates, that our party leaders should let the voters speak first. And I think if they do that all the way through the end of voting that will strengthen our party, and certainly strengthen our hand if we succeed with voters between now and June.
Perhaps this is simply Devine making a more palatable case for the same strategy Weaver outlined. No one is likely to challenge the idea of letting the voters speak. But that “if” in the last sentence carries a lot of the load for what he seems to be saying. While Weaver indicates that the outcome of the last primaries won’t affect the strategy, Devine seems to indicate that it will.
It is very possible that candidate Sanders is receiving different advice from his campaign manager than he is from his chief strategist. One might expect this in any campaign that is on the ropes. The fact that they seem to be disagreeing publicly could indicate a problem. But ultimately it is Sanders who will decide on the path forward. The rational choice would obviously be to go with the advice he’s getting from Devine. We’ll see.