Masters in Politics Podcast

Plotting Bernie Sanders’ Path Forward and Donald Trump’s Downfall

Tad Devine, Sanders’ senior adviser, and Republican strategist Katie Packer talk about the prospect of stopping the respective party front-runners.

Conventional wisdom in Washington may hold that the 2016 presidential race will pit Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton in the general election, but two seasoned political veterans with an interest in the matter tell Bloomberg’s Masters in Politics podcast, not so fast.

Tad Devine, senior adviser of the Bernie Sanders campaign, says even though Clinton had a good night on Super Tuesday, her winning streak may be over. “We see a path forward and I understand the math that’s involved and also the working of proportional representation in the Democratic Party. I think we can do it.”

But Devine, who was also a top adviser to the Gore and Kerry presidential campaigns, recognizes it will not be easy for Sanders. He concedes that the campaign needs a big win to move forward.

“We are going to have to beat her in a number of upcoming states and we are going to have beat her in some decisive battleground states—big states, like probably New York, her own home state, and a state like California, at the end of the process,” he says. “And I think if we do, if we can put together enough delegates, if we can win the race for pledged delegates, I think it's going to be close but I think we can still win it.”

On the Republican side, veteran Republican strategist Katie Packer, a woman who has made stopping Trump her political mission, sharply disputes that the party cannot halt Trump’s march to the nomination. Packer, the executive director of a newly-formed anti-Trump super-PAC, acknowledges that Trump has a significant delegate lead but notes that most Republicans have not yet cast ballots.

“I think it's insane to think it's too late,” she says. “Seventy percent of the delegates have not been awarded. And everybody wants to say that it has never happened before where somebody has won all of these early states, and has not gone on to win. Well nothing about this cycle is like ever before.”

Packer brings her credentials as the former deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid to her new role as super-PAC director.

Despite Romney’s scathing criticism of Trump, Packer acknowledges that the Trump-Romney relationship looked a lot different in 2012. But, she says, Romney made a raw political calculation.

“Trump said a lot of bombastic things about all the candidates [in 2012] and we sort of made a strategic decision that either we have this guy on our team, so he's not ripping on our candidate all the time, or we don't,” she says. “And maybe it was a mistake, but we reached out to him, and he supported Governor Romney.”

In fact, she explains that it was her interaction with Trump four years ago that sparked her “passion” to try to defeat him. “I found him to be just as pompous and narcissistic as he's turned out to be as a candidate.”



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