CNN Fears Democratic Primary Will Take Too Long, Hurt the Nominee

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As the New Hampshire primary results were coming in Tuesday night, showing three candidates with double-digit support and two in the “top tier” barely holding on, CNN’s exclusively liberal panel had fears that the nomination processes would take too long and the candidates would damage each other too extensively.

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) broached the subject by pointing out how “five people are coming out still in this race after New Hampshire” and “Michael Bloomberg sitting there with a billion-plus dollars.” “This thing can go any way,” he said.

CNN’s chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and former Obama advisor David Axelrod agreed that the race could drag until the convention:

GLORIA BORGER: To the convention.

DAVID AXELROD: It could go to Milwaukee.

MCAULIFFE: You bet could go to Milwaukee. Nobody knows how this could go.

When host Anderson Cooper wondered “Is that a good thing?” He was met with a resounding “no” from seemingly the entire panel of liberals. “No, the longer we go everybody's fighting and then you got to wait until the end of July to get organized,” McAuliffe added as CNN host and liberal activist, Van Jones explained how Trump would be “building, building, building, building,” during that time.

 

 

Let me be very clear, it is going long to be a fight to the Democrat, it's going to be a fight right up to the end tearing each other apart right up through July, which is not good for our party,” McAuliffe fretted a short time later. “I know Elizabeth Warren said tonight let's all be unified. Are you kidding me? They are coming out guns a blazing after tonight.”

Former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer Jess McIntosh was alarmed by the idea that a prolonged process would cause the candidates to attack each other, and she couldn’t figure out why Democratic turnout had been plummeting (click “expand”):

There are a lot for Democrats to be nervous about with the way the primaries are playing out. One of that is how long it's going to take. One of them is how the attacks are getting pointed. And one of them is voter turnout. Unless we start seeing--

I mean, since Trump was elected we have seen record-breaking turnout in elections usually people ignore entirely. I'm talking about special elections for a state legislator seat. Why all of a sudden when we get to the show, when we get to the presidential primary do we start seeing voter levels drop off to lower than 16 [percent]?

Moments later, Axelrod appeared to try to calm everyone down by suggesting “these are not unusually negative campaigns. I mean, campaigns are tough. Barack Obama went 50 rounds with Hillary Clinton in 2008, and they had some very, very acrimonious debates and so on.”

But it was his last point that many on the panel weren’t sure about: “The question is, do you come together at the end? And that is a concern that if you go, you know, 50 states to a convention will, at the end of that convention, Democrats unite around one candidate.”

Noting how Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters didn’t rally behind Clinton in 2016, Borger thought it “could be a problem again.”

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s America’s Choice 2020: New Hampshire Primary
February 11, 2020
9:35:55 p.m. Eastern

(…)

TERRY MCAULIFFE: Listen, five people are coming out still in this race after New Hampshire. This is extraordinary and we've got Michael Bloomberg sitting there with a billion-plus dollars. You know, none of us sitting around here – This thing can go any way.

GLORIA BORGER: To the convention.

DAVID AXELROD: It could go to Milwaukee.

MCAULIFFE: You bet could go to Milwaukee. Nobody knows how this could go.

ANDERSON COOPER: Is that a good thing?

VAN JONES: No.

PANEL: No. [Laughter] [Crosstalk]

MCAULIFFE: No, the longer we go everybody's fighting and then you got to wait until the end of July to get organized.

JONES: And Trump is building, building, building, building.

JESS MCINTOSH: There are a lot for Democrats to be nervous about with the way the primaries are playing out. One of that is how long it's going to take. One of them is how the attacks are getting pointed. And one of them is voter turnout. Unless we start seeing--

I mean, since Trump was elected we have seen record breaking turnout in elections usually people ignore entirely. I'm talking about special elections for a state legislator seat. Why all of a sudden when we get to the show, when we get to the presidential primary do we start seeing voter levels drop off to lower than 16 [percent]?

BORGER: What’s the answer to that question?

MCAULIFFE: If it goes long. Let me be very clear, it is going long to be a fight to the Democrat, it's going to be a fight right up to the end tearing each other apart right up through July, which is not good for our party. I know Elizabeth Warren said tonight let's all be unified. Are you kidding me? They are coming out guns a blazing after tonight.

(…)

AXELROD: Listen, guys, let me legislate something. I've been around for a long time --

JONES: We agree.

AXELROD: Yeah I know. I think that's obvious. I don't even need to stipulate that.

But these are not unusually negative campaigns. I mean, campaigns are tough. Barack Obama went 50 rounds with Hillary Clinton in 2008, and they had some very, very acrimonious debates and so on. The question is, do you come together at the end? And that is a concern that if you go, you know, 50 states to a convention will, at the end of that convention, Democrats unite around one candidate.

[Crosstalk]

MCINTOSH: -- in ’16 we didn’t do that.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Better for Buttigieg to face that criticism of a thin résumé now than to have no one speak of it and wait for Donald Trump to lay it out. Because if it's going to stick, Democratic Party’s better off finding out now.

BORGER: Bernie Sanders has said, this time, that he will support the Democratic nominee.

AXELROD: He did last time. [crosstalk] But some of the supporters did not.

BORGER: His supporters did not and that I think could be a problem again.

(…)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Conspiracy Theories Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Cable Television CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Video Jess McIntosh Anderson Cooper David Axelrod Gloria Borger Van Jones Terry McAuliffe

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