It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane …

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Hello. Welcome to On Politics, your tutorial to the day in nationwide politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host.

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If Bernie Sanders were being a superhero, his identify would most surely be Teflon Person.

Through his just about 3 many years in Congress, he has demonstrated an uncanny ability to shrug off all sorts of criticism — from his postnuptial travels to the Soviet Union to the heart attack he experienced in the midst of his presidential marketing campaign.

It’s a political phenomenon I wrote about above the weekend, soon after the disclosure on Friday that intelligence officers think Russia has been interfering in the 2020 race to aid his candidacy.

Final night’s discussion posed the biggest examination to date of Mr. Sanders’s political superpowers.

Early indications were being that it would be Mr. Sanders’s time in the barrel. In the times before the discussion, Joe Biden strike him on guns, health treatment and reviews that he regarded as a major challenge from President Barack Obama in 2012. Aides to Michael Bloomberg accused Mr. Sanders of becoming the prospect handpicked by President Vladimir Putin.

That is wherever the knifing started Tuesday evening, with Mr. Bloomberg arguing that Russia is serving to Mr. Sanders get the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Sanders brushed it off, then parried the attack by questioning Mr. Bloomberg’s file in China. “Let me convey to Mr. Putin, I’m not a great buddy of President Xi of China,” he stated, alluding to Mr. Bloomberg’s small business passions in the region and his reviews past calendar year that Xi Jinping is “not a dictator.”

Other attacks on Mr. Sanders — in excess of his praise for Fidel Castro, his electability, the charges of his plans, his assistance for the filibuster — appeared to go along the same strains. The cost was leveled by Mr. Biden or Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar and then brushed absent by Mr. Sanders.

And then, the other candidates, somewhat mystifyingly, dropped the argument.

Some of this was the fault of the moderators, who had been typically unwilling to push traces of questioning. Soon after Mr. Biden accused Mr. Sanders of resulting in “carnage on our streets” by voting for a regulation he mentioned undermined attempts to keep gun suppliers accountable for mass shootings, the moderators opted from adhering to up.

But obviously the candidates also produced a preference to drive only so difficult when it arrived to attacking Mr. Sanders — a determination that reflects the energy of his base in the Democratic Occasion. Assault Mr. Sanders and you risk alienating his young, liberal base, in many techniques the future of the occasion and a drive just about absolutely required to win the typical election.

Most likely Elizabeth Warren’s efficiency best embodies the Sanders tango.

Plainly, she can land an attack. When it arrived to Mr. Bloomberg, Ms. Warren seemed to keep absolutely nothing back again, laying into him for bankrolling her Republican opponent in the course of her to start with Senate campaign and citing her have tale of pregnancy discrimination to provide up an allegation versus him.

“At least I didn’t have a boss who explained to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have claimed to just one of his expecting staff,” Ms. Warren explained. (Mr. Bloomberg denied producing the remark.)

Mr. Sanders, on the other hand, prompted a much gentler distinction. “Bernie and I agree on a whole lot of things, but I believe I would make a better president than Bernie,” Ms. Warren explained.

She argued that she was far more productive at battling large banking companies and filling in the specifics of a wellbeing treatment program. “Progressives have acquired a person shot, and we have to have to spend it with a leader who will get a thing finished,” she extra.

Mr. Sanders disputes that argument, saying he will inspire a grass-roots motion of supporters who will force for change.

But their discussion didn’t get any more heated than that final night. Supplied Mr. Sanders’s standing in the race, that variety of kid-glove therapy could conclude up handing him the nomination.

From our colleague Shane Goldmacher:

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