A top adviser to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said in a memo leaked to the Washington Post that the progressive lawmaker would consider mounting a third campaign for president if Joe Biden opts not to seek re-election in 2024.
The memo, which the Washington Post first reported on Wednesday, was reportedly shared amongst allies and was sent by Faiz Shakir, a close adviser to the Vermont senator who also acted as his campaign manager in his most recent bid for the White House.
“In the event of an open 2024 Democratic presidential primary, Sen Sanders has not ruled out another run for president, so we advise that you answer any questions about 2024 with that in mind,” the memo said, according to the post. The newspaper reported that it received the memo from an anonymous source with direct knowledge of the memo’s contents and was separately confirmed by a second source with knowledge of its contents.
The Independent reached out to Sen Sanders’ office for comment on the memo but did not immediately receive a response back.
Sen Sanders, who turned 80 last September, would be among the oldest candidates running for the US presidency in 2024 if he did decide to run.
Spokesperson Mike Casca told the post in response to their reporting that, “while it’s frustrating this private memo leaked to the media, the central fact remains true, which is that Senator Sanders is the most popular officeholder in the country.”
CNN’s Ryan Noble separately confirmed the memo that was circulated amongst allies and shared screenshots of its contents on Twitter.
In addition to the line where the memo reads that the 80-year-old senator “has not ruled out another run for president”, there is additional guidance in the note for surrogates that provides tips for how to handle the question: “Will you support Sanders if he challenges Biden in 2024?”
The memo redirects surrogates to focus on how the Vermont senator is “focused on helping Joe Biden have a successful presidency”, emphasizing his work as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and promoting the Build Back Better legislation last summer.
That Sen Sanders’ potential 2024 campaign is tied to an open Democratic primary makes the chances of him running again slim, as the sitting US president has indicated on several occasions he has the full intention to run for re-election should he remain in good health .
The memo, which was titled by Mr Shakir as “Embrace the attacks”, largely provides advice for campaigning ahead of the 2022 midterms, campaigns that the Vermont senator has historically been very engaged in as his office tends to endorse more progressive candidates from various races across the country.
“Sen. Sanders is interested in endorsing more candidates and we’d love your help identifying potential target races,” the memo reads, according to the post‘s reporting.
Among the progressive candidates the Vermont senator has endorsed so far, there’s a 28-year-old immigration lawyer, Jessica Cisneros, who is looking to unseat Texas Democratic Rep Henry Cuellar and Summer Lee, who is hoping to make history by becoming the first Black woman from Pennsylvania elected to Congress.
Sen Sanders narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary race and in 2020 seemed to be the frontrunner for the party, but after losing the South Carolina primary to Mr Biden, he and his more moderate candidates began to bow out and rally around the now-sitting president.
In an interview with Washington Post In 2020, the Vermont senator was posed the same question that the outlet reported on this week, asking him at the time if he’d consider another bid at the White House in 2024.
To which the then recently defeated senator responded with a take much different than the tune reported this week, nearly two years later: “I think the likelihood is very, very slim at that.”