Bernie Sanders' Debate Advice For Hillary Clinton Puts Her In Her Element

With Hillary Clinton locked in a general election with the bombastic, unpredictable, and oft-incendiary Donald Trump, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has some ideas. On MSNBC's Morning Joe on Sept. 16, Sanders had some advice for Clinton, and it amounts to this: Start running on issues, rather than "all of this personality stuff." While he was speaking more generally, this could apply to Clinton's performance in the upcoming first presidential debate.

Specifically, Sanders said that he thinks Clinton should be focusing on many of the issues he pressed her on throughout the campaign ― things like health care, tax and income equality policy, climate change, and one of his signature issues, eliminating student debt and ensuring higher education for all. Sanders explained further:

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This is a slightly strange tactic for Sanders to propose to Clinton, considering she's notoriously more comfortable with policy than personality. She really hasn't tried to run on the strength of her persona or life story — at least, not nearly to the extent that, say, President Obama did in 2008. But in a certain way, it makes sense that Sanders would say this. Although the two are often far apart in terms of the relative orientations of their proposals, both are first and foremost geared toward thinking in terms of policy. And with a daunting, harshly negative general election campaign heavy on character attacks, it's clear that Sanders worries Clinton's actual proposals and affirmative case for herself are getting lost in the weeds.

Sanders repeated that he hoped that millennials would "look at the issues," also citing Clinton's desire to increase taxes on the rich, as compared to Trump's harshly regressive tax cut, which would free up more income for millionaires and billionaires like himself:

Somewhat counterintuitively, however, Sanders also stressed that he believes many voters, including those who were once his supporters, are motivated by the "bigotry" argument. Despite the fact that he also suggested voters shouldn't get "hung up" on the birther issue, Trump's years-long spreading of conspiracy theories about President Obama's birthplace has helped make mainstream a movement that has always, at its core, been an exercise in racism. Perhaps Sanders' point, though, is that highlighting offenses against Obama may not move as many undecided votes as an emphasis on the suffering of the economically disenfranchised. He explained:

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Sanders also cautioned his former supporters, and young voters in general, to think long and hard before casting a "protest vote," saying that when all is said and done, either Clinton or Trump will be elected president, and the consequence of third-party defections could be disastrous:

Sanders is reportedly planning to hit the campaign trail for Clinton in the days to come, and that can only be a help to her. He's previously promised to do "everything in [his] power" to prevent a Trump presidency.