Bernie Sanders Adviser's Remarks On U.S., Capitalism Likely To Draw Trump Fire, Says Strategist

Sociology professor Heather D. Gautney, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ presidential campaign, is no fan of the U.S., which she has called a “predator” nation.

She is, however, a fan of regimes like those in Tehran, where she said she’s never felt so welcomed, and Caracas, where she heaped praise on Venezuela’s late strongman Hugo Chavez. Repeatedly, she has said that capitalism and democracy, cornerstones of the American experiment, cannot coexist.

“Today’s neoliberal capitalist system has become utterly incompatible with the requisites of democratic freedom,” she said in Caracas in 2006, a sentiment she has voiced and written about on several occasions since.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said both Ms. Gautney’s anti-American stances abroad would make her a ripe target for President Trump should Mr. Sanders be the Democratic presidential nominee next year.

“This is something the Trump team would likely magnify,” Mr. O’Connell said. “Here you have a full-blown socialist who hates America. It’s the classic case of someone making a concerted effort to smear the U.S. at home and in other countries.”

Mr. Sanders has always surrounded himself with a colorful cast of characters, and as he makes his second bid for the White House, those advisers are drawing new scrutiny. Venezuela appears particularly attractive to the Sanders team.

Ms. Gautney gained some national attention last month when she took to Twitter to boost Mr. Sanders‘ idea of wiping clean the student loan slate, while linking to his campaign’s Twitter accounts — a ploy with such naked self-interest Mr. O’Connell thought it too would be the sort of thing opposing campaigns like to highlight.

“I am $180K in debt,” the Fordham professor tweeted on June 24. “I have a PHD and am a tenured professor — my students are in the same boat, sinking in debt. I pay $1100/month in student loan debt, half of my rent. We MUST #CancelStudentDebt. Wall St got bailed out, what about us?!”

Read more from James Varney at the Washington Times

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Analysis & Political Strategy