If Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders followed the advice of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, he'd forgo the Democratic primary and launch an independent bid.
But that plan, levied by an unlikely ally for Sanders, would arguably be more beneficial to Trump than the socialist Democratic presidential candidate.
"Bernie Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats — both with delegates & otherwise," Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "He should show them, and run as an Independent."
Bernie Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats—both with delegates & otherwise. He should show them, and run as an Independent!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1461686855.0
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has an almost 4 percentage-point lead over Sanders ahead of Tuesday's so-called Acela Super Tuesday primaries, according to Real Clear Politics' aggregated polling data. In a general election matchup against Trump, polling shows Sanders with a 15.2 point lead whereas Clinton only has a 8.5 point lead over Trump.
Presuming that a third-party Sanders campaign would pull votes away from Clinton, Trump could emerge as the next president should all three candidates compete in the general election.
However, Sanders and his wife, Jane, have dismissed Trump's suggestion as not a viable option for the campaign. Sanders has said he plans to stay in the game until at least June 7 — the last primary day.
"We've been very clear right from the beginning that we will not play the role of spoiler," Jane Sanders told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday. "The reason that he was active and he decided to run in the Democratic Party was just that: We cannot afford a Republican in the White House. We cannot afford a Republican appointing Supreme Court justices. So Bernie will not be running as an independent."
In an a campaign email to supporters Tuesday afternoon, Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, criticized the "odd new line of attack against people like you who stand with Bernie."
"Here’s the truth: no matter what the Clinton campaign says, there is one candidate in this race Donald Trump said would make a great president, and another that he would never want to face in November," Weaver said in the email.
Trump has also alleged that the GOP has treated him unfairly and has toyed with the prospect of his own independent bid.
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