Trump Supporters Unmoved By ‘Operation Chaos’ Effort To Boost Sanders

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. ― Republican activists in South Carolina have been urging party voters this week to support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in Saturday’s open Democratic primary, a move that’s been dubbed “Operation Chaos.”

The effort is meant to sow discord in the Democratic presidential race by boosting the candidate that many in the GOP view as the easiest rival for President Donald Trump in November. Republicans believe the senator’s self-described “democratic socialist” label and his proposals like “Medicare for All” will be a drag on the Democratic ticket and down-ballot candidates in the general election.

But nearly a dozen Trump supporters who spoke with HuffPost at the president’s rally in North Charleston on Friday said they weren’t planning on casting their ballot for Sanders, even though most of them were aware of the scheme.

“I’m not doing that. I have better things to do with my time,” said Elizabeth Angelone, a nature photographer from Bluffton. “None of my friends are doing it.”

A Facebook video posted ahead of the rally and flyers that were handed out outside the event urged GOP voters to have “a little fun” and vote in the Democratic primary:

“I’ve heard that all day today,” said Ilka Reilly, 49, who recently moved to Charleston, said when asked about the effort. The petrochemical saleswoman said she heard people in line at the event discussing the idea.

During his rally at the North Charleston Coliseum on Friday, Trump polled the massive crowd about who would be easier him to face in November, suggesting his supporters vote for whoever that is in the Democratic primary “if permissible” by law.

“Who do I want to run against?” Trump asked the crowd, floating both Biden and Sanders. “I don’t know, maybe crazy Bernie, I suppose,” he concluded from the crowd’s reaction, using his nickname for the Vermont senator.

Jeffrey Rubin, 67, who moved to South Carolina from Chicago, warned before the event that Republicans pushing the scheme ought to be careful what they wish for. 

“Years ago, when Obama was first running as a candidate for Democrat, all the Republicans back then said vote for Obama because he’s Black and he’ll never get elected,” Rubin said. “No, I’m not going to do that. I don’t think there’s any candidate the Democrats can get that’s better or worse for Trump.”

Rubin, who works as a surgeon in Charleston, said he supported Trump because of his accomplishments.

“I don’t like him personally. He’s a narcissist but he does what he says he’s going to do,” Rubin added. 

Deitress Smith, a Black supporter of the president who lives in Charleston, expressed a similar sentiment.

“Bernie wouldn’t be easy to beat because he’s like Trump. A lot of people thought Trump was easy to beat,” she said.

Alan Woods, 70, a retired general contractor from Edisto Island, said that voting in the Democratic primary would be a waste of his time. 

“I’ve got other things to do tomorrow. I’m not coming down here and voting with a bunch of Democrats,” he said.

Nina Ortiz, a retiree from Myrtle Beach, agreed.

“I don’t want to encourage them. I don’t want them to see they have as much support as they do,” Ortiz said. 

Most Trump rallygoers who spoke to HuffPost on Friday dismissed the entire Democratic presidential field as not serious and far too liberal. They pointed to the unruly Democratic debate in Charleston earlier this week as yet more evidence of how the party and its presidential candidates have, in their view, little to offer to the country.

But John Harkin, 74, a retiree from Charleston, did name a Democratic contender who has made an impression on him: Tom Steyer. The environmentalist billionaire has blanketed the airwaves in South Carolina in recent weeks ― indeed, it’s hard to miss his ads on radio and television. 

“He’s impressed me the most. He has no political baggage,” Harkin said. “If I was to vote tomorrow, I’d vote for Tom. I’d like to see him put a kick in Bernie’s butt, along with Biden. Put a thorn in their side.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to do well in the Palmetto State primary on Saturday, based in large part on his strength with Black voters. But Sanders has made inroads with voters in the state, and he’s likely to perform better here than in 2016, when he lost to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a large margin.

Source: Read Full Article