South Carolina Republicans are poised to push voters to support Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in the open South Carolina Democratic primary next week, because they view him as the weakest opponent to face Donald Trump.
“Bernie Sanders is the most socialistic, liberal candidate running in the Democratic presidential preference primary,” Greenville GOP chairman Nate Leupp told The Post and Courier. “So we feel we can make a strong point that our Democratic state legislators need to help work to close our primaries so it protects them as well as the Republican brand.”
The most recent Post and Courier poll for the primary found that Sanders trailed former vice president Joe Biden by five points, which prompted Leupp to declare that Republicans “can easily affect the outcome.”
“This is going to catch on like wildfire,” he stated. The Post and Courier reported that Leupp and other state Republican leaders plan to announce the plan at a press conference on Thursday.
South Carolina has open primaries, allowing voters to participate in either party’s contest, but with no option to write in candidates. Although the South Carolina GOP had canceled its own primary, Leupp said the move to support Sanders “can still help Trump.”
“It helps the Upstate’s cause of registration by party and closed primaries, so it’s a win-win for any conservative Republican,” he said.
Leupp admitted that he had gotten the idea from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who launched “Operation Chaos” in 2008 to encourage Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries to sow discord.
President Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian honor — during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, calling him “the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.”