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Sanders' team says he has 'not ruled out' a 2024 bid if Biden doesn't run

The Vermont senator's former campaign manager wrote in a memo that allies should keep a potential third run for the presidency in mind.
Congress Works To Pass An Infrastructure and Government Funding Bill
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to a reporter outside of the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 28.Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has "not ruled out" a bid for president in 2024 if President Joe Biden chooses not to seek re-election, his former campaign manager wrote in a memo to allies Wednesday.

"In the event of an open 2024 Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Sanders has not ruled out another run for president, so we advise that you answer any questions about 2024 with that in mind," Faiz Shakir wrote, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NBC News.

Sanders lost bids for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020 but has become an increasingly influential voice in Democratic politics and policymaking. As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders has helped advance a Biden agenda that reflects portions of his own platform.

The line about 2024 was the last of a long memo that Shakir described as containing "close hold" information — meaning not for public distribution — about Sanders' plans for the coming months.

Biden has said he will seek a second term in 2024, but some Democrats are quietly skeptical about whether he will follow through.

The Washington Post first reported on the memo.

The main thrust of the memo, entitled "Embrace the Attacks," is a line of defense for candidates and their supporters who find themselves getting hit for accepting Sanders' backing.

"As campaigning heats up in states across the country, your political opponents and their corporate-aligned allies will try to make you feel defensive about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ support for your candidate," Shakir wrote. "Our advice is to embrace the attacks."

Among the reasons he listed: an NBC News poll showing that a Sanders endorsement is more likely to sway Democratic voters than that of Biden or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Notably, in a frequently asked questions section of the memo, Shakir answered the possibility of Sanders running against Biden without specifically ruling it out.

"Sen. Sanders is putting forward an extremely popular vision for the Democratic Party that will win back critical support that we have lost," he wrote. "In fact, Bernie wants to build power for the working class and take on the corporate socialism that our political system currently favors."