The spread of the virus has forced the Sanders campaign to find new ways to reach voters at a moment when large in-person events are no longer feasible. The campaign announced Thursday that it had asked staff to work from home and would no longer hold large events or campaign door-to-door.
The campaign has already begun to adapt to the new challenges posed by the novel coronavirus. Later Saturday night, Sanders plans to field questions remotely in what his team billed as a “fireside chat” online.
Rebik joined other campaign officials on a national volunteer call that was also broadcast on YouTube. She encouraged supporters to tune in to Sunday night’s debate between Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden and said the campaign would be hosting an online pre-program featuring surrogates.
She also sad that residents of the states that are holding primaries on Tuesday should still plan to vote. Recent polls have shown Biden holding a wide lead in those states – Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio – reflecting the significant advantage he has opened up over Sanders in the contest nationally.
Biden has defeated Sanders by wide margin in pivotal states during the past couple of weeks, making Sanders a long-shot in their one-on-one competition. Biden has also taken the lead in the number of delegates to the July convention.
On the Saturday call, campaign staff walked supporters through the ways they could use an online app to try to build support among their friends and family and phone dialing software to make calls to voters in the key states. They stressed the focus was not on persuasion, but on identifying Sanders supporters and ensuring they turn out.
As they walked supporters through the process, the staff previewed a website where volunteers could log in and get started with calling voters. The page indicated a “special dialer” for Florida. Biden is heavily favored in the state, which is home to many older voters and Democrats turned off by Sanders’s past praise for communist and socialist leaders.
Phillip Agnew, a surrogate for the campaign who was recently named a senior adviser and has been focusing on African American outreach – a weakness for the campaign so far – sought to draw contrasts with Biden ahead of Sunday’s debate, targeting his record on Social Security and other topics.
“I can’t wait for that debate tomorrow,” he said.
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