Bernie Sanders’ Vatican Trip Before NY Primary Could Help Him

The presidential candidate is leaving the Empire State days before the primary.

ByABC News
April 15, 2016, 1:31 PM

— -- Bernie Sanders may be down by double digits in New York polling, but that hasn't stopped him from taking an international trip four days before the state's important primary.

The Vermont senator flew to the Vatican immediately after Thursday night's debate in Brooklyn.

While he could have packed his schedule with different stops throughout the boroughs of New York City or the upper reaches of the state, the international trip may actually have greater impact, at least one observer says.

"I think it's a really smart move," ABC News political analyst Matt Dowd said today.

The trip to the Vatican, where he will be attending a conference on the importance of building what Pope Francis has called a "moral economy," switches up his schedule and, as a result, his talking points.

"Other than two or three events where he's saying the same thing, it gives him a news hook," Dowd said in an interview. "In the aftermath, everyone will be asking him about it."

In addition to altering his routine, the event could also pick up some new support among Catholic voters, Dowd said.

"It gives him a lift, [and] puts him in a context of being a big leader," he said.

It also helps that Sanders' rival, Hillary Clinton, is headed out of the state for part of the weekend, as well. She is flying to California for fundraisers later today, including a closed-door event hosted by actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal.

Even if he ends up losing to Clinton in Tuesday’s New York primary, it doesn't see the Vermont senator will regret it.

“I know it’s taking me away from the campaign trail for a day but when I received the invitation ... it was something that I could just simply not refuse,” Sanders said in the Vatican today.

“I have long-been a supporter of the economic vision of Pope Francis,” Sanders said. "His views on climate change has played a profound role ... in turning many people's minds around about the urgency" of implementing a so-called moral economy.