In Tennessee, where Hillary Clinton easily won the Democratic primary in March, her supporters aren’t exactly screaming for Bernie Sanders Sanders to get out of the race, reports Michael Collins. But they’re ready to move on to the general election.
“I think it would be best if we concentrated on Donald Trump,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Memphis Democrat and Clinton backer. “I understand where Sen. Sanders is wanting to drive his agenda further and further. He has shown there is a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction with the system. But he has made his points.”
Regardless, Cohen said, “He wants to campaign to the end, and it’s going to cost Democrats more money — and it’s going to be more money spent on primaries that should be spent on (defeating) Donald Trump.”
Memphis political consultant Matt Kuhn, who headed Sanders’ campaign in Tennessee, said he’s heard other Volunteer State Democrats say Sanders should drop out and let Clinton concentrate on Trump.
But Clinton already has begun turning her attention to Trump, Kuhn said, citing a recent Clinton campaign ad released that uses footage of Trump’s fellow Republicans trash-talking the GOP nominee. He said it’s one of the best anti-Trump ads he’s seen.
Kuhn doesn’t buy the notion that Sanders’ barrage of attacks against Clinton — at one point, Sanders said she wasn’t qualified to be president — will damage her in the general election. Sure, Trump’s campaign probably will use some of Sanders’ sound bites in its own campaign ads in the fall, he said.
“(But) there’s no way the messaging the Bernie campaign is using will come back and haunt Hillary,” Kuhn said. “It can only help her, I think, because it excites a part of the Democratic Party that wants to get out there and support the liberal message.”
Besides, he said, the squabbling among the two Democrats “pales in comparison to what’s already out there on the Republican side.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat and Clinton supporter, puts it another way.
“We may have a rivalry in the Democratic Party,” he said. “But they have a civil war in the Republican Party.”
What matters in the end, Cooper said, is that Democrats unite behind their nominee. And he’s convinced they will.