Fred Hartman

Politics is fascinating, especially in a presidential race.

With Joe Biden coming in a shocking fifth place and spiraling downward, one Democratic commentator tried to put the best spin on socialist Bernie Sanders’ victory with 25.6 percent of the vote in this week’s New Hampshire primary.

The commentator said if you add Sanders’ total with Elizabeth Warren’s terrible fourth-place finish of 9.2 percent, that’s only 34.8 percent of the vote for the socialists while the rest of the Democratic candidates got 65.2 percent

I’m pretty sure the nomination doesn’t work that way.

That leaves three candidates vying for the moderate lane to rescue the Democratic Party from Bernie, whose positions include support for Medicare for all, forgiving student debt and wealth taxes on the rich.

It doesn’t matter to Bernie’s supporters how the government would pay for any of it.

One would think a more moderate Democrat would have the best chance against President Trump in the general election — and the great hope for many voters is former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Bloomberg didn’t participate in Iowa and New Hampshire, and won’t be on the ballot in Nevada and South Carolina. He won’t officially be on the radar screen until March 3 on Super Tuesday. That includes the Texas primary.

The moderates in New Hampshire were second place finisher Pete Buttigieg, the young mayor of South Bend, Ind., and third place finisher Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Many people aren’t giving Buttigieg and Klobuchar much of a chance against Bloomberg because the mayor plans on spending a large chunk of his $58 billion fortune.

But at this point, Bernie is looking like the favorite because of Bloomberg’s late entry into the race. Further and more importantly, Bernie, like Trump, has an emotional connection with his voters.

Whether Bloomberg can cultivate anything similar remains to be seen.

Bloomberg has a big challenge for a number of reasons. For starters, he was a George W. Bush Republican who made his fortune on Wall Street and supported lowering the corporate tax rate. How will that go over with the left-leaning base of the Democratic Party?

Then, if Bloomberg becomes the nominee and faces Trump, he’d have to defend his positions on stringent gun control and measures to combat global warming. Plus, he alsoopposed President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, but then disagreed with Trump for getting out of it.

Also, what kind of justices would a President Bloomberg appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Then comes his controversial stop-and-frisk policies in New York, which are highly unpopular in the black community because it focused on a disproportionate number of young black men.

Bloomberg has done an about face and apologized because he knows how important black voters are to Democrats. But will it be enough to overcome an offensive by Trump that we saw during last week’s State of the Union to appeal to black voters?

Black unemployment is at historic lows under Trump and a large number of black men support Trump way more than they normally do a Republican candidate. If Trump could pull off 15 percent of the black vote instead of 10 percent, he would have a big advantage.

Trump and Bloomberg have already been trading insults. Trump calls Bloomberg short and Bloomberg calls Trump fat. Just what we need to elevate the race.

Trump has also said he doesn’t think Bloomberg wants to debate him, but I think Bloomberg would relish the opportunity. It would be great to hear a debate on issues instead of insults.

However, Bloomberg and his supporters can’t put the cart before the horse. He has only 18 days remaining to make that connection with voters. It’s going to take more than money to win the nomination. He’ll have to worry about Trump later.

If Bloomberg doesn’t succeed wildly on Super Tuesday, the nomination could be Bernie’s for the taking.

Reach Fred Hartman at fbh@hartmannews.com.

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