Bernie Sanders has been chugging along. Even without much funding and almost zero support from the DEM party base, Sanders managed to collect incredible numbers, both at rallies and in polls. Apparently, his sustained success worries the DNC. Over the weekend and out of nowhere, the DNC accused a Sanders campaign staffer of “inappropriately accessing Hillary Clinton’s information on a database leased from the DNC.”
No one bothered to explain why a database leased to the Sanders campaign would even give his campaign the ability to access that information. They just went for the BIG HEADLINE, suspending Sanders’ ability to access that database and accusing Sanders of all manner of sneakiness and dastardly business.
But, despite his relatively short time on the national scene, Sanders has successful in politics – in spite of the DNC – for quite a long time. His campaign immediately fired back, accusing the DNC of “stealing” campaign data and threatening to sue the DNC for it.
In a press conference, a Sanders spokesman said, “We don’t need dirty tricks. By their action, the leadership of the DNC is now attempting to undermine our campaign. If the DNC continues to hold our data hostage, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking relief.”
Regardless of where this goes in a legal sense, the public relations fallout from this exchange could be huge. And the first points have to go to Sanders. In response to a direct accusation, Sanders accused his adversary of playing dirty and saying his campaign has no need of such tactics. That’s a message resonating with Sanders fans, and will likely sway DEM voters who can’t quite stomach Clinton.
There’s no doubt Hillary engenders little love and less enthusiasm among any but the most ardent DNC faithful. Her likeability is in the tank, and, Sanders’ entire campaign seems to be fueled by his supporters’ ardent love for the man and his positions. So, in the court of public relations, at least on the DEM side of the aisle, Sanders has the edge.
Now, the campaign that, this year at least, has been dominated by Clinton’s repeated denials of any wrongdoing related to her email scandal is busily attacking her opponent for digital malfeasance, creating an obvious pot-kettle narrative.
Sanders’ campaign flat out refused any wrongdoing, “No data that I’m aware of was exported in a way that could be used by anybody.”
Then they followed that denial with a direct attack, “We need our data which has been stolen by the DNC.”
When both sides are accusing the other of stealing, who voters believe comes down to who they trust. The DNC might just come to regret pulling this particular trigger.
David Milberg is an investment banker from NYC.