Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders campaigned in Brooklyn on Friday. Here are five steps the Vermont senator can take to gain ground against rival Hillary Clinton:
1. Stay on message: “Political revolution,” “power of Wall Street,” “corporate greed” are the tunes that keep this political crooner on the charts. Reducing Clinton’s New York numbers is a more complicated affair; see how he ended up walking back remarks about her being “unqualified.” Targeted attacks aren’t his thing. Septuagenarian Sanders must continue to rely on positive youthful exuberance for how he frames the debate.
2. Find those lefty pockets: In the fall of 2014, a little-known law professor named Zephyr Teachout got an impressive 33 percent of Democratic primary votes against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Sanders’ camp is expected to seek out where she got clusters of votes. His Working Families Party supporters can identify strongholds, not only in the Bronx, Park Slope and the Upper West Side but upstate burgs and in western New York, where many jobs and people left long ago.
3. Raise the alarms: He can tout polls that showed him farther ahead of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz than Clinton would be and pound home the message to iffy Democrats that Clinton could lose to either. He must allay his rival’s suggestion that he cannot be an effective spokesman for Democrats, given he’s a self-described socialist elected as an independent.
4. Quiet the alarms: Despite his railing against the corporate state, Sanders has said his tax program would be geared toward helping small business. He’s been caricatured as less than zealous on gun control, but it’s hard to believe his presidency would dismantle, say, New York City’s strict permit and carry laws. He needs to allay fear among small business owners and gun-enforcement advocates.
5. Lighten up — a bit: He isn’t as funny as that Larry David routine might suggest. But it might serve Sanders if he showed some looseness, at least while in New York. A glimmer: When caught being ignorant about MetroCards, he joked about jumping the turnstile. Since much of a campaign is showbiz, a candidate might find advantage in running against someone as lacking in spontaneity as Clinton. Warning: Singing and busting moves on the dance floor would go too far.