A left-wing group that opposed Joe Biden in the primaries is launching a six-figure digital campaign aimed at persuading progressive voters in battleground states, especially Bernie Sanders supporters, to cast a ballot for the former vice president.
But don’t expect it to air rose-colored ads about Biden: RootsAction.org, POLITICO has learned, has recruited some of the biggest critics of Biden within the Democratic Party to make an unvarnished case for why they’re voting for him despite their disagreements.
“Our organization fought fiercely in the primaries for Bernie and against Biden,” said RootsAction.org co-founders Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon in a statement. “But the general election is far less about Biden than it is about Trump — the most dangerous president in modern U.S. history, who opposes virtually every policy and principle that progressives are fighting for.”
The group said leftist professor Noam Chomsky, former Sanders surrogate Linda Sarsour, ex-Sanders adviser Winnie Wong, longtime Sanders ally RoseAnn DeMoro, Medicare for All advocate Ady Barkan, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin and ex-Sanders campaign co-chair Rep. Ro Khanna are among those who have signed onto its “#VoteTrumpOut” initiative.
The organization’s kickoff video, which stars Chomsky, paints a picture of a world that is under threat by imminent climate disaster and President Donald Trump.
“Another four years of Trump may literally lead us to the stage where the survival of organized human society is deeply imperiled,” Chomsky said in the spot. “It doesn’t matter how I feel. It doesn’t matter whether you like Biden or not. That’s your personal feelings, irrelevant, nobody cares about that. What they care about is what happens to the world. We have to get rid of Trump, keep pressure on Biden, just as Sanders and associates have been doing.”
RootsAction.org said its effort, which includes a micro-targeted social media campaign featuring the voices of its high-profile left-wing supporters, “will be entirely independent of — and often in opposition to — corporate Democratic leaders.” The group, which once described Biden’s record as “abysmal,” recently got behind a pledge by Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention to vote against the party platform if it doesn’t adopt Medicare for All.
In 2016, Benjamin endorsed Green Party candidate Jill Stein after backing Sanders in that year’s primary. DeMoro tweeted in May that the Obama-Biden administration is “how we got the horrendous Trump years,” and Wong said recently that it was “shameful” that members of a key committee for the DNC — most of whom were appointed by Biden — voted against adding support for single-payer to the party platform.
But RootsAction.org’s message to progressives is “vote Trump out — and then challenge Biden” after November. The argument centers on the idea that it is impossible to push Trump to embrace left-wing ideas, whereas Biden can potentially be nudged in that direction through activism.
“In messaging to persuade voters who dislike Biden’s record to vote Biden in swing states, we’ve learned that it works well to characterize Biden as a far better opponent to be fighting against in the White House than the immovable Trump,” said Solomon, referring to his group’s testing of Facebook audiences.
Solomon added that the group will spend “several hundred thousand dollars” on the effort, and that it has hired full-time organizers in the swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona.