After spending years arguing that accusations of socialism against Democrats were merely Republican smears, it seems like the Democratic Party may be preparing to fully embrace the label as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is emerging as the front-runner to win the 2020 presidential nomination.
MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked DNC Chair Tom Perez on Wednesday how Democrats will come together despite the "ideological divide" separating the party's moderates from its progressive base.
Perez responded by saying there are no ideological divisions among Democrats:
"I think the real thing that folks understand is that what unites us far exceeds what our differences are. There's no ideological divide on the need to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions can keep their health care. There's no ideological divide on the need to ensure that we keep pharmaceutical companies accountable so that we can lower the price of prescription drugs. There's no ideological divide on the need to make sure that one good job should be enough. The differences between the Democratic Party candidates and Donald Trump, whoever the nominee is, are 100 percent."
Swing State Democrats: Bernie who?
While Perez may want to downplay concerns among Democrats with having Bernie Sanders as the party's nominee, several party leaders have refuse to say whether they will endorse the 78-year-old democratic socialist.
When asked by the Miami Herald this week if they would consider supporting Sanders, three members of Congress from the key swing-state Florida balked at the possibility.
"He's not going to be the nominee," said Rep. Donna Shalala of Florida's 27th Congressional District when asked if she would campaign for Sanders if he were to win the Democratic Party's nomination. "That's [a] hypothetical question and since I don't think he's going to be the nominee I don't have to answer the question."
Former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-18) and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) also punted.
"I'm seriously considering endorsing another candidate, that's my answer to you," said Mucarsel-Powell, who represents a purple congressional district in southwest Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys with a large anti-socialist Latino population.
Meanwhile, Bernie is pulling ahead
The DNC's embrace of Sanders comes as polls show him increasingly likely to clinch the party's nomination.
A national YouGov / Yahoo News poll taken Feb. 12-13 shows Sanders beating top Democrats in head-to-head matchups, indicating that the Vermont socialist is in a strong position to win even if the crowded field were to narrow.
Meanwhile, a Las Vegas Review-Journal / AARP poll finds Sanders with a comfortable 7-point lead over former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming Feb. 22 caucus in Nevada. Although another recent poll shows Biden continues to maintain his first place position among South Carolina primary voters, his lead has narrowed significantly in recent weeks following his poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire. The South Carolina primary is Feb. 29.