Trump And Sanders, The Disrupter Brothers

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by Karl Rove,

from The Wall Street Journal,

The noisy challengers won’t win, but they will complicate the campaign for their party rivals.

Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls are facing challenges from two candidates who draw on the populist wings of their parties.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described “Democratic Socialist,” represents the far-left populists—angry at Wall Street, infuriated by income inequality, fearful of foreign economic competition and committed to a peace-at-all-costs isolationism that blames America for the world’s ills.

Mr. Sanders has gained about 250,000 donors and turned out huge crowds in Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine and New Hampshire. Since launching his campaign on May 26, he has cut Hillary Clinton’s lead in Iowa to 34 points from 51 and her margin in New Hampshire to 16 from 37, according to poll averages by Real Clear Politics.

For Republicans, the challenge is television personality and hotelier Donald J. Trump. But his message is aimed at conservative populists.

These are people who believe the country is going down the tubes and are angry that the GOP hasn’t stopped President Obama. Mr. Trump’s promise to build a wall on the southern border and send Mexico the bill has helped his poll numbers. So has telling the Chinese to go to hell on trade. Mr. Trump’s rise, to 6.5% in the Real Clear Politics average.

Both of these new populist champions are planning to hang around. Mr. Sanders, an ideological true-believer, wants to drag his party further left. Mr. Trump wants to draw attention and become a political force. It will be interesting to see how other White House hopefuls handle these disruptive intraparty rivals.

So far Mrs. Clinton is dealing with Mr. Sanders’s challenge by moving left. She is attempting to make herself indistinguishable from him ideologically, even at the risk of looking inauthentic and cynical—as she does when attacking hedge-fund managers while playing down her and her husband’s long and lucrative relationship with Wall Street.

The response of GOP candidates to Mr. Trump should be guided by the June 23 Fox News Poll showing that 64% of Republicans, 69% of conservatives and 55% of tea party members consider his candidacy a sideshow.

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