Chuck Todd said Wednesday that he doesn’t “understand how Bernie Sanders is considered a front-runner” in the 2020 Democratic presidential race after the Independent Vermont senator’s performance in the New Hampshire primary.
“I don’t understand how Bernie is considered a front-runner,” an animated Todd said on “Meet the Press Daily” on MSNBC. “This is a guy that, more people showed up to the polls, highest turnout ever, and his percentage went down, not up. His total number went down, not up.”
New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary ended with Sanders winning by 1.3 percentage points over former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and 5.9 points over Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who finished a strong third in a boost her campaign.
Sanders won by 22 percentage points in New Hampshire against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, but he was facing nine more opponents in the Granite State on Tuesday.
“I feel like the only people who are going out on a limb and calling Bernie Sanders the front-runner, they have other reasons to call him front-runner,” Todd, who moderates “Meet the Press” and serves as political director for NBC News, argued. “One person leads delegates, one person has a lock on a chunk of the party, but we don’t know where this goes.”
Buttigieg has 22 delegates to Sanders’s 21.
Supporters of Sanders have accused MSNBC of being biased against their candidate, including one woman who told network host Ari Melber on Tuesday that she voted for the self-described democratic socialist because of the network’s “cynical” coverage of the candidate.
“I want to say that the reason I went for Bernie is because of MSNBC,” the woman said during the network’s live coverage of the primary.
“Go on,” interviewer Melber joked, looking at the camera.
“I think it is completely cynical to say that [Sanders] lost 50 percent of his vote from , when there were two candidates. Now there are multiple, wonderful candidates who are great candidates who would be great presidents we can all get behind,” she continued.
“The kind of ‘stop Bernie cynicism’ that I heard from a number of people — I watch MSNBC constantly, that I heard from a number of commentators … made me angry, and I said, ‘OK, Bernie’s got my vote,'” she added.
Can I just say how impressively ignorant @msnbc anchors and some contributors are having to be to find a way to snatch the victory narrative away from Sanders. I’m honestly in awe of the mental gymnastics and intentional obtuseness pic.twitter.com/DspTIALuIO
— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) February 13, 2020
Todd was a the center of a firestorm on Tuesday after quoting a Bulwark story that referred to Sanders supporters as the “digital brownshirt brigade,” which resulted in the hashtag #FireChuckTodd.
“I want to bring up something Jonathan Last put in the Bulwark today,” Todd said Tuesday afternoon in a conversation with Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.
“It is about how, Ruth, we have all been on the receiving end of the Bernie online brigade. And here’s what he says: ‘No other candidate has anything like this digital brownshirt brigade. I mean, except for Donald Trump. The question no one is asking is this: What if you can’t win the presidency without an online mob? What if we live in a world where having a bullying, agro social online army running around popping anyone who sticks their head up is either an important ingredient for, or a critical marker of, success?’”
Sanders aide David Sirota posted the video on his twitter feed, drawing nearly 900,000 views and 10,000 likes.
“What if you can’t win the presidency without an online mob?” — MSNBC seems very frightened that ordinary voters, many of whom use the Internet, may actually get to participate in deciding who wins the presidency pic.twitter.com/nPM5c8DF1n
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) February 10, 2020
The Democratic field is now turning its attention to the Nevada caucuses, which will be held on Feb. 22.