President Donald Trump's 2020 reelection team is reportedly developing an anti-Bernie Sanders attack strategy that could include videos highlighting so-called "victims of socialism," a plan Sanders' presidential campaign viewed as evidence Trump is worried about facing the Vermont senator in the November general election.
The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee (RNC), and other right-wing allies of the president are "gaming out various attacks and troll tactics to deploy against the Vermont senator in a potential general election face-off."
"Donald Trump is getting a little bit nervous about facing Sen. Sanders in a general election."
—Mike Casca, Sanders campaign spokesperson"One of the major ideas being kicked around," according to The Daily Beast, "is to deploy more 'victims of socialism' and communist regimes to make the case—via video testimonials—against Sanders' vision of governance."
Sanders, who identifies as a democratic socialist, has pointed to Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Norway—which consistently rank among the happiest in the world—as more just nations that the U.S. should seek to emulate.
The Daily Beast reported that Trump "privately said late last year that he wanted to see an onslaught of TV content and ads that colorfully paired Sanders with hammer-and-sickle iconography."
Mike Casca, a spokesperson for the Sanders campaign, told The Daily Beast that the president's plan to red-bait the Vermont senator shows "Donald Trump is getting a little bit nervous about facing Sen. Sanders in a general election."
"The president's campaign is quickly realizing that the only way to attack someone who spent his entire life standing with the working class is to lie," said Casca.
The RNC last October launched VictimsOfSocialism.org, a website that warns "2020 Democrats are obsessed with bringing socialism to America." The site provides an indication of the kinds of anti-Sanders attacks the Trump campaign could use in the future if the senator wins the Democratic nomination.
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"They are offering 'free' everything, from government-run healthcare to free college-for-all," the site states. "Learn the truth about what that actually means from real people who lived in socialist countries, and survived to tell their tale."
The site's debut video features a brief clip of Sanders discussing Medicare for All in an interview on MSNBC last April.
"All people people get it, regardless of their income," Sanders said. "It is publicly funded."
Trump has recently intensified his attacks on Sanders, who is leading the popular vote in the Iowa Democratic caucus and slightly behind Pete Buttigieg in state delegate equivalents with 71% of precincts reporting.
"I think he's a communist," Trump said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity that aired Sunday. "I mean, you know, look, I think of communism when I think of Bernie."
Even as he publicly attacks and ridicules Sanders, the president has reportedly voiced concerns behind the scenes about the senator's working-class appeal in crucial battleground states.
"I've always thought he would be obsessed with the senator," Nina Turner, national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, said of Trump in an interview with The Daily Beast last month. "He knows that [Sanders] is the true progressive and the right person to go up against his faux populism."