Democratic strategist Maria Cardona posed the idea Sunday that frontrunner Hillary Clinton could lose critical early-state nomination races in Iowa and New Hampshire to socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).
Cardona, a self-described Clinton supporter, said on ABC's This Week that no one should be surprised if Sanders wins both races.
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This could be a sign of just how worried Clinton's camp is about Sanders, who has garnered huge enthusiasm among the left-wing base of the party.
Host Jonathan Karl teased the discussion with clips of Sanders supporters crowing about their man. He polled well in a recent survey of New Hampshire voters, just 10 points behind the woman expected to coast to the nomination.
"I don't think we've seen more enthusiasm for any candidate, Democrat or Republican, than we've seen for Bernie Sanders," Karl said. "Maria, what is going on … Hillary Clinton, supposed to be a coronation here. She now finds all the energy in the Democratic primary right now is with a 73-year-old self-described socialist from Vermont."
Cardona laughed, saying the media thought this would be a coronation, not Clinton.
"Bernie is from a neighboring state," she said. "We shouldn't be surprised that there is so much enthusiasm for him, and in fact, we shouldn't be surprised if he does very well in New Hampshire or in Iowa and perhaps even wins. I think this is good for the Democratic Party … As a Hillary supporter, I think she will be the nominee, but she will be that much better of a nominee and that much better of a general election candidate because of Bernie."
"Let's also remember no Democrat has broken 40 percent in Iowa unless you are from there or are unless you are an incumbent or a VP, so again, I think expectations need to be tamped down here," Cardona added later.
"You're bringing down the expectations," Karl said, laughing.