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Sanders Settles in for Fight Against Resurgent Clinton

Bernie Sanders is ready to take Hillary Clinton on. After Clinton’s campaign turned to dirty tactics in dismissing Sanders, top Democratic strategists suggest that he is ready to strike back and go on the offensive.

“If you’re trailing, you try and go on offense, and you’re going to dial up the contrasts,” said Democratic strategist Doug Thornell, who served as traveling press secretary for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. “It’s a necessity to go after the front-runner and try and bring them down.”

“It’s too early to tell how [Sanders’s attacks] will translate,” Thornell said. “Maybe it’ll have some impact in Iowa. It’s one of those places where you can go from third to first place and from first to third place relatively quickly.”

The Hill reports:

Jim Manley, another Democratic strategist, took it a step further, saying Clinton “can’t take anything for granted.”

The White House on Monday also shot down suggestions that Clinton has the Democratic nomination locked up. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is still in the race, would have something to say about that.

“Sanders has demonstrated an ability to energize a significant part of the Democratic electorate,” Earnest said.

Sanders aides did not respond to inquiries on Monday.

Clinton supporters argue she helped herself with a strong performance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi last week. They argued that Republican attacks on Clinton had energized the Democratic base and helped her with independents to boot.

“Liberal policy positions won’t win over the base — Bernie wins on that score, and probably always will — but a fired-up performance in the Benghazi hearing certainly won over some previously undecideds,” said Democratic strategist Christy Setzer, who runs a progressive communications firm.

“Sanders will keep throwing bombs, but Clinton just won herself a great deal of insulation.”

People who expressed doubts about Clinton as her campaign struggled this summer are shifting their tone.

One top fundraiser for President Obama, for example, was eager to see if Vice President Biden would enter the race. The bundler also said he wanted to see whether Clinton would move past the scandal surrounding her use of a private email server as secretary of State and how she’d fare in the first Democratic debate.

And after last week, the donor was sold and will now start ramping up efforts for Clinton.

“She has really proven herself over the last couple of weeks,” the fundraiser said. “And she has earned the support. The sentiment right now across the board is game on.”

Photo credit: The Cannibalist.

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