The man behind Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign sees plenty of differences between that campaign and Bernie Sanders' run at the 2016 Democratic nomination.
For one, Joe Trippi — Dean's campaign manager in the 2004 election — thinks Sanders' road to the nomination is filled with speed bumps.
"I see more big differences than similarities between the Dean and Sanders campaigns," Trippi told The Washington Post
. "It starts with the structure of the race. We faced three establishment Democrats, not one. John Kerry, Dick Gephardt and John Edwards were three strong candidacies that were splitting the vote and donor support of the party establishment in 2003. So when we started to move, we actually took the lead in national polls and in each of the key states.
"Sanders faces a completely different problem. No one is splitting the party establishment with Hillary," he said.
"I think Sanders' path to the nomination is much more difficult than the path we faced in the Dean campaign in 2003."
Trippi added that Sanders could have trouble gaining the black vote
, which Clinton has been aggressively courting. Sanders, for what it's worth, hired a black press secretary
Another big difference between the Dean and Sanders campaigns, according to Trippi, is that Dean was favored by many of the established Democrats and big donors. Sanders has relied on small donors to fuel his campaign.
Trippi adds that the most support he thinks Sanders can gain nationally is 35 percent of the vote.
"It will take time and expanding his ability to grow support in the African-American community and other minority voters to get much above that," Trippi said. "If Joe Biden or someone else was in the race splitting the establishment vote like we had in 2003, 35 percent might be enough.
"But right now Sanders' path, even with the establishment underestimating him, is tougher than the one we faced in 2003."
Sanders has begun to chip away at Clinton's sizable lead in polls. He is now the Democratic front-runner in New Hampshire
, according to one poll. In another poll of Iowa voters, Clinton now trails four Republican candidates
in the race.
CNN political analyst John Avlon said Wednesday he believes Sanders could win the first two primaries next year, in Iowa and New Hampshire.
"Bernie Sanders could win the first two primaries," Avlon said, according to video posted to Mediaite
. "It would be a major blow to the Clinton campaign, but not stop the run for the nomination. That's the fascinating thing."
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