Bernie Sanders' Biggest Obstacle Was Also The GOP Debate's Most Tweeted-About Moment
Thursday night's seventh GOP debate in Des Moines, Iowa, focused on the top Republican candidates chasing the White House — sans Donald Trump, who chose to skip the event. Despite the contenders' substantive conversations on foreign policy, domestic terrorism, and immigration, the most tweeted about moment of the GOP debate was actually about Bernie Sanders, revealing one of Sanders' biggest downfalls as a candidate.
When asked why the country should elect him, Marco Rubio explained that the country really doesn't need Sanders after eight years of President Obama, choosing to attack the Vermont senator rather than the GOP's usual punching bag — Hillary Clinton. Rubio said, rather enthusiastically, "Bernie Sanders is a socialist. I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president — of Sweden. We don't want to be Sweden." *Drops the mic.*
Since it was the most talked about video clip from the seventh debate, people obviously agreed, or at least thought it was clever sound bite. While Sanders' liberal fan base enjoys his socialist ideologies, more moderate and conservative voters wouldn't be quick to support him in a general election. Though a bit dramatic, Rubio's pointed comment highlights the biggest obstacle standing between Sanders and the White House — the political category he falls under.
Sanders is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist and wants to bring about a political revolution, but it will be difficult to persuade undecided and independent voters to elect a socialist. Right now, Sanders' campaign exists in a Democratic bubble, as he battles Clinton and Martin O'Malley for the Democratic nomination. If he were to make it to the general election, his democratic socialism would no doubt worry Americans who don't lean so far to the left, and Republicans would build on Rubio's attack. Of course, the GOP has plenty to bash Clinton for too, but they can't say she's anything but a Democrat.
Although Sweden and Sanders probably weren't fans of Rubio's joke, people on Twitter loved it. It was a shining moment for Rubio — something he badly needed a few days before the Iowa caucuses. Rubio has struggled to make a real impact in the Republican field, and though he's in the top three, the Florida senator hasn't been able to overtake Ted Cruz or Donald Trump in recent weeks.
Attacking Democrats is always a safe bet for Republicans to gain attention during debates, but most focus their harsh words on Clinton. Commenting on Sanders allowed Rubio to make a point that his opponents haven't yet (the anti-Clinton rhetoric was getting a bit stale) and show that he knows his liberal rivals' weaknesses. As the primaries begin next week, time will tell whether or not Sanders and Rubio will get their respective parties' nominations, but neither is a shoe-in for the Oval Office.