Dems Move to Leverage Bernie Sanders' Popularity as Party Regroups

Sanders has been named "outreach chair" for Senate Democrats.

“If anyone has any ideas let me know,” Sanders joked with reporters this morning when asked what exactly he would do in the new position. “I just got this title yesterday.”

Although they hardly come from the same ideological background (Schumer is known for being close to Sanders’ Enemy No. 1, Wall Street, especially for a Democrat), the two men have had nothing but compliments for each other as of late.

They have been described as “pals” and “D.C.” friends. Staff members are quick to point out that they have worked well together in the past. They share a Brooklyn rough-and-tumble attitude and even went to the same high school. They speak on the phone regularly. Now the Democrat Party leader-in-waiting not only wants to defend the independent, but also bring him into the fold.

“He has developed such a reputation, deservedly so, of working with people across the nation. He inspired people to come out, and that kind of outreach is really important,” Klobuchar said of the role.

Staff for Senate leadership agreed there were not specific plans or ideas yet for what the role for Sanders looks like day to day, but that the announcement was about securing him a “seat at the table” on all big picture strategy and planning from the top.

One staff member described Sanders as a needed bridge between the same young, far left progressives and grassroots organizers who helped elect President Barack Obama twice and the blue-collar workers who are eager for a steadfast voice that speaks their language.

When exactly to harness Sanders’ organizing or messaging power is yet to be determined -- it’s a wait-and-see attitude with Democrats on the Capitol Hill. Which Donald Trump will show up? What exactly will they need to respond to? They aren’t sure.

“This is the debate we are going to have to have in the Democratic Party, that debate is: Which side are you on?” Sanders said, calling for major changes in the party. “Can you go out and raise substantial sums of money from the wealthy and Wall Street and other special interest [groups] and then convince the American people that you are on the side of workers and the middle class?”