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Tuesday
Oct092018

Bernie Sanders ramps up campaigning for Democrats, backs candidates he did not support in primaries

Alex Edelman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders will to continue to pound the pavement ahead of midterm voting this November.

Sanders' team has announced the next phase of a robust campaign schedule that will take the independent senator to nine states in nine days starting next week to help elect Democrats running for governor, U.S. House and Senate.

They anticipate adding more stops in the final stretch as well.

Notably, the list of candidates for this swing includes some true-blue progressives, as well as more moderate Democrats who do not agree with Sanders on all policy prescriptions. The senator, for example, will campaign with the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, though he campaigned for one of her challengers in the primary.

Jacky Rosen, the Democratic Senate candidate in Nevada, also sticks out.

"It is a diversity of Democrats on the list from some people who are unabashedly progressive to some who are progressive but not totally aligned with Bernie on every issue," Jeff Weaver, Sanders' former presidential campaign manager and current adviser, told ABC News over the phone.

"These are historic midterms, and it is about making sure Democrats up and down the ballot get across the finish line. ... He was looking for places where he could make the biggest impact, in some cases that was folks contacting us and in some cases he saw a candidate that he thought would be a great elected official and we reached out to them," Weaver continued.

Sanders plans to start his tour Oct. 19 in Indiana to campaign for U.S. House candidate Liz Watson, who is running against Rep. Trey Hollingsworth. It is a tough race in a red area.

His itinerary then takes him to Ann Arbor, to campaign with Whitmer. During the primary, Sanders campaigned for one of Whitmer’s democratic opponents: Abdul El-Sayed. Weaver told ABC News his team offered to campaign with Whitmer after that race and her team was "enthusiastic" about him coming.

"In many primaries this year we have had an embarrassment of riches and had two good candidates," Weaver told ABC News, calling Whitmer a "fantastic" candidate.

"When you have multiple progressives running in a primary, one of them will win or the other one will, but the general election is now, and it is time to make sure we defeat the Trump agenda everywhere, up and down the ballot," he added.

The tour takes Sanders to Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada -- all early voting states in a presidential year. Sanders seems to be considering running for president again and Weaver will accompany him on part of the trip next week.

He is planning to campaign for Arizona’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, David Garcia, on Oct. 23, but as of now, not the party’s Senate candidate, who is in a tight race to try to win that seat for the party.

Commenting on the choice of states and political risk for candidates in red areas to campaign with Sanders, Weaver said: "What you see too often in Washington is an outdated view of how politics works in America. ... Bernie Sanders did better in rural America, with moderate Democrats, he was winning those constituencies. He is very popular with independent voters who are critical in general elections."

Weaver noted 50 percent of millennials currently register as independents.

Sanders has endorsed nearly 80 candidates this cycle.

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