democratic debates

Tom Steyer Is Here to Make Friends (With Bernie Sanders)

Bern notice. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

If businessman Tom Steyer doesn’t get another opportunity to participate in a presidential debate, he will have left the stage having made one point almost desperately clear: This billionaire is a fan of Bernie.

During the last Democratic debate in Iowa, Steyer’s biggest moment was standing in the background of a tense exchange between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren at the end. During Friday night’s debate in New Hampshire, Steyer left many viewers with a different impression, thanks to numerous times he lavished praise on Sanders or his ideas. Indeed, it seemed as though Steyer came to the debate with the classic also-ran mindset: “If you can’t beat them, agree with them so much they want to become your friend.”

But Sanders (and Warren and Amy Klobuchar) remained focused on other billionaires, like Mike Bloomberg and the ones who give money to Pete Buttigieg:

As for whether or not this strategy won any reciprocating attention from Sanders diehards — it will probably take a lot more than words (and attack ads that go after socialists).

And it’s at least possible that Steyer had a different, more ruthless reason for trying to build Bernie up. In South Carolina, he and Sanders are both rising against state front-runner Joe Biden, though Steyer poured money into the state to accomplish that.

Or maybe Steyer really is just being nice, since he was already defending Bernie against Hillary Clinton’s attacks beforehand:

Tom Steyer Is Here to Make Friends (With Bernie Sanders)