Is Hillary Clinton feeling the Bern?

Because it seems she’s been a little hot under the collar lately when the topic of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ insurgent candidacy for the Democratic nomination arises. 

In recent days, Clinton’s aura of inevitability — and not just to be the Democratic nominee, but also as the next occupant of the White House — has taken a significant hit. For example, although a prolific fundraiser in her own right, Clinton saw Sanders match her nearly dollar for dollar during the fourth quarter of 2015. 

Then new polling news emerged. Democrats in Iowa, which votes first and conducts its caucuses in less than three weeks, reportedly favor Sanders 49 percent to 44 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released. Meanwhile, Sanders’ lead in New Hampshire, which votes next, has swollen to double digits. In national polls, as The New York Times noted recently, Sanders has eclipsed Clinton’s once seemingly insurmountable lead. 

Clinton, who for the most part had ignored Sanders during the last few months, has of late attacked her main rival. Recently, it was over gun control. Clinton’s position, while standard Democratic gruel on guns, was that Sanders refuses to challenge the gun lobby; but that critique fails to account for the very liberal gun culture in Sanders’ home state. Vermont, for example, does not even issue permits, much less regulate concealed or open carry of firearms. Sanders has said he supports President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to tighten down on gun sales through executive orders. 

On Wednesday, she rushed to the defense of her daughter, Chelsea, who attempted to slap Sanders down on health care. Chelsea Clinton asserted that Sanders’ plan — which he refers to as Medicare for all — would “strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance.” That’s a bizarre claim to make about Sanders — a self-described socialist who has long supported a single-payer, (i.e., the government) health care system.

Bernie Sanders is not Barack Obama, but he mirrors Obama in that he inspires among his followers a resolute passion and sense of mission that Clinton struggles to muster. He also comes without all of the scandal baggage, which has re-emerged with news about her State Department emails and failing to respond to her role in silencing accusations of sexual misbehavior made against Bill Clinton a generation ago.

Hillary Clinton still may become the Democratic nominee. She may even become president; but Bernie Sanders has positioned himself as a viable alternative for Democrats, with the energy, support and fundraising prowess to stick it out for the long haul. As a U.S. News & World Report headline recently put it, “The Democrats have a real race,” and that’s good for the Democratic Party as well as the country.

Reprinted from the Jacksonville Daily News

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