Rahm Emanuel on Democratic Party: ‘Panic would be the adjective to describe the mood right now’

Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff and former Chicago mayor, talks to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about the current state of the Democratic Party.

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday said there is a sense of “panic” in the Democratic Party as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders racks up wins in the Democratic primary.

His comments come amid increasing worry surrounding the party’s final endorsement among establishment Democrats, and as Sanders has emerged as the front-runner in the race following his victory in the Nevada caucuses.

“I would say panic would be the adjective to describe the mood right now,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

When asked if there should be panic in the party, Emmanuel said, “Sure. This is a consequential election and you don’t want to make a mistake.”

“Personally, I’m friendly with Sen. Sanders. I’m not a fan of (his) politics,” the former White House chief of staff to Barack Obama said. “I think it will lead to an electoral defeat when, in fact, the country is looking for an alternative to Donald Trump. They want to vote in a different direction.”

Emanuel added that Sanders will need to do more than tout his political record and experience if he wants to increase voter turnout.

“I think that the case of the matter is he’ll have a record, he’ll be able to promote it, but don’t kid yourself that Donald Trump and President Putin are going to have a say in what Bernie Sanders’ record looks like by the time he gets there to do that,” Emmanuel said.

The fear in the party isn’t just over how Sanders and his far-left platform would fare against Trump in the general election, but about the effect his nomination could have on down-ballot races, particularly for Democrats running in tough elections in swing districts and states.

South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn told CNN on Sunday that he believes a Sanders win in the Democratic primary could cost the party seats in Congress, echoing concerns over the self-described democratic socialist held by many establishment Democrats.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez said “there’s no question” Sanders will “create a real challenge for down ballot candidates” if he’s the Democratic nominee.

“I’m thinking of my home state in New Jersey. We got three new House members. They run in districts that were held by Republicans,” Menendez told CNN. “How do they triangulate? How do they if someone like Senator Sanders is at the top of the ticket?”

Democratic presidential candidates have also ramped up their attacks on the Vermont senator and his policies such as “Medicare for All.” Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has warned against nominating Sanders, saying the senator “believes in an inflexible ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats.”

Businessman Tom Steyer also criticized Sanders during a CNN town hall on Monday in Charleston, South Carolina.

“I don’t think a government takeover of major parts of the American economy is a good idea,” Steyer said of Sanders’ policy proposals. “I don’t think it’s good for working people, I don’t think it’s good for families.”