Top progressives and officials from Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign are quietly encouraging Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to pursue a 2024 presidential run if President Biden declines to seek a second term, Politico reports Thursday.
Though Khanna has denied having any intention of running for president, Sanders allies and advisers view the California representative as a possible new face for progressives, and one with the power to unite different factions of the Democratic party, Politico writes.
"I'm not running in 2024," Khanna, 45, said. "I fully expect the president to run and intend to support him strongly." But Mark Longabaugh, a senior adviser for Sanders' 2016 presidential bid, and Jeff Weaver, Sanders' former presidential campaign manager, have reportedly been working behind the scenes to persuade Khanna in the event of a vacancy.
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"I think Ro would be a very effective candidate," Longabaugh said, stressing he was only referring to a 2024 race sans Biden. "His base would be in the progressive wing of the party, but I think his coalition could be bigger than that," he added later.
"I think he would have tremendous appeal among people who supported Bernie. I do, absolutely, 100 percent," Weaver told Politico, once again emphasizing he was only discussing Khanna's candidacy in an election without Biden. "He has a thoughtful take on the economy, which I think a lot of working-class people that Democrats have had difficulty reaching would hear."
Allies of Khanna's, who is the son of Indian immigrants, also believe the prospect of a President Ro would garner "financial support in the Indian American community and appeal to immigrants of all stripes," Politico reports.
Added Ben Cohen, Ben & Jerry's co-founder who worked with Khanna as co-chair on Sanders' 2020 campaign: "He's just an honest, sincere guy who really wants what's best for the majority of Americans."
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