GOP activists urge vote for Sanders in South Carolina
Republican activists in South Carolina are urging GOP voters to do the seemingly unthinkable: support U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ bid for the White House in the state’s Democratic primary on Saturday.
This report produced by Jonah Green
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**~ Republican activists in South Carolina are urging party voters to do the seemingly unthinkable.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) STEPHEN BROWN, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST, SAYING: "We are specifically asking for Republicans and Trump supporters all across South Carolina to turn out and vote for Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary on Saturday." They're calling this effort Operation Chaos.
To expose what the activists like Stephen Brown see as flaws in the Southern state's open primary system… And to help the re-election of President Donald Trump.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) STEPHEN BROWN, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST, SAYING: "We've been pushing and pushing and we keep getting rebuffed, and we thought, well, here's an opportunity to make a public protest." Making this possible - the rules of South Carolina, where voters do not register by party, and are allowed to vote in either party's contest.
Democrats and Republicans previously have threatened to interfere with the other party's primary process in South Carolina and elsewhere, generally without success.
In Iowa, however, Republicans boasted they clogged Democratic Party telephone lines, exacerbating embarrassing delays in reporting caucus results.
The Republicans voting for Sanders also believe he'll not only be a weak candidate against Trump, but will cause chaos in the Democratic party.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) STEPHEN BROWN, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST, SAYING: "So we as Republicans think that there's a very reasonable chance that the Democrats might deny the nomination to Bernie Sanders, and if they were to do that, we believe it would enrage the left, cause the Democratic Party to split and only help Donald Trump in his reelection." Conservative Ron Tomaccio also defended the idea, dismissing the notion it was cynical.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) RON TOMACCIO, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST, SAYING: "I hear that from folks like say, oh, this is this is not the high road, this is not what we should be doing.
I might agree with that, but the tactic is valid and when you're engaged, I'm a military guy, when you're engaged in a confrontation, you use every tactic available to you." Sanders enters Saturday's contest as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, fueled by wins in New Hampshire and Nevada and a near-tie for first in Iowa.
But the self-proclaimed democratic socialist now faces a tough challenge from Joe Biden.
The former vice president is bolstered by strong support from African Americans in the state.
South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson, who represents Charleston, says Operation Chaos proves that Biden is the better candidate to face Trump in November.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MARLON KIMPSON, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE SENATOR, REPRESENTING CHARLESTON, SAYING: "Well, I think in light of this conspiracy to hijack the Democratic nomination process by the Republicans voting for Bernie Sanders, and also in light of the new evidence we see with the Russians interfering to sway votes to Bernie Sanders, I think Democrats are now paying attention and we want to save our party, we want to save this process for the most electable candidates.
It's still a long road, but in South Carolina, all of those roads are pointing to Vice President Joe Biden." A Public Policy Polling survey released on Monday found a "fair number" of Trump supporters planned to vote in the Democratic primary.
But the survey said their dispersed support among several candidates meant they would not be a factor.
The vote is this Saturday.