South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House, said Friday that Democrats are concerned about picking a presidential nominee who “would cause down-ballot carnage” to Democrats running for as other offices, in an apparent reference to front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Some House Democrats have already expressed significant unease at the prospect of sharing a national ticket with Sanders, who is a self-described democratic socialist and represents the progressive wing of the party, CNN earlier reported.
“That’s our biggest problem of my members. We want to see somebody on the ticket that will allow us to expand our numbers, not having to run some kind of a rear guard campaign in order to keep from being tarnished with a label. So our candidates are really concerned about that,” Clyburn, an influential person in South Carolina politics and highest-ranking African American in Congress, told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
“I think it would have some significant down-ballot effects, and what I tell everybody is he may well win the popular vote,” freshman Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota told CNN’s Manu Raju earlier this month.
Clyburn pointed to the past presidential bid of Democratic nominee and liberal George McGovern in 1972 in which there was a lot of “excitement” but ultimately McGovern ended up only winning one state – Massachusetts – and the District of Columbia in the general election.
Clyburn endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday.
“Well, I tell people all the time: the history ought to instruct us,” he said. “So what we’ve got to be careful of is not coming out of the convention with everybody on the same page. Not with a couple people yelling loud about how excited they are about a victory on the floor and then lose the country.”
CNN’s Kelly Mena, Chris Cilizza and Manu Raju contributed to this story.