Left-wing political operative and Clinton loyalist David Brock has spoken with fellow organizers about a campaign to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in his quest for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Sanders, a 77-year-old democratic socialist, is the leader in fundraising and polling among the declared Democratic presidential candidates, and has retained a solid base of support from his challenge to Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2016.
"There's a growing realization that Sanders could end up winning this thing, or certainly that he stays in so long that he damages the actual winner," Brock told the New York Times, adding he has spoken with other operatives about conducting an anti-Sanders campaign and thinks it should begin "sooner rather than later."
He called it the "Bernie question," adding it "comes up in every fund-raising meeting I do." He said Sanders would likely seize on any organized efforts to stop him.
"You can see him reading the headlines now: 'Rich people don't like me,'" Brock quipped.
Former Obama official Steve Rattner, a major Democratic donor, said Sanders's rise comes up "endlessly" in his conversations, and Virginia Democratic chairwoman Susan Swecker said, "it has gone from being a low hum to a rumble."
Sanders was recently targeted by ThinkProgress, a website under the umbrella of the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress. ThinkProgress produced a video showing Sanders moving away from his rhetoric against "millionaires and billionaires" to just "billionaires" as the lawmaker became a millionaire himself after writing two bestselling books.
Sanders wrote a furious letter in response, stating it was engaging in "destructive" tactics that could endanger efforts to defeat President Donald Trump. CAP has extensive Clinton ties; CAP's president is longtime Clinton ally Neera Tanden, and it was founded in 2003 by Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign chairman, John Podesta.
There is little love lost between Brock and Sanders.
Sanders ripped into Brock during a Bloomberg Politics interview in 2016, after columnist Al Hunt mentioned the "Clinton people" who fretted he may be planning to bus in out-of-state students to caucus for him in Iowa. Sanders grew angry and mocked Brock, who was a self-described "right-wing hit man" before undergoing a political transformation into a diehard Clinton acolyte.
"Based on what do they say that? Based on David Brock's long history of honest and integrity?" Sanders asked angrily. "The man who tried to destroy Anita Hill? Is this where this is coming from? ... I don't want my integrity and honesty to be impugned. I have no idea who says this. This is a lie, an absolute lie."
Sanders also referred to Brock as the "scum of the earth" following Brock saying that black lives didn't matter to Sanders.
Shortly before Trump was inaugurated in 2017, Brock apologized to Sanders for his aggressive tactics against him and vowed he would be "with you in the fight ahead." Those times appear to be over.