Conservative activist calls Sanders 'elder statesman' of Dem campaign

Conservative activist Raheem Kassam on Tuesday referred to Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersO'Rourke faces pressure from left on 'Medicare for all' O'Rourke says he won't use 'f-word' on campaign trail O'Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers MORE (I-Vt.) as "the elder statesman" of the Democratic presidential campaign, saying the longtime senator will rise to the top of the growing field of 2020 primary candidates. 

"What's really interesting about this is he's going to rise to the top of that pack quite quickly, I think," Kassam, the former editor-in-chief of Breitbart News London, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising."

"I think the center of gravity around the Democrat Party has now shifted so much, that people are not just looking at Bernie Sanders as the guy that ran last time," he continued. "He's kind of like the elder statesman of Democrat presidential campaigns now." 

"I think it's probably a good thing that the left has these arguments internally because, as we've seen with the 'Green New Deal' in recent weeks, there is some measure of debate to be had as to where the future is with the left," he said. 

Sanders on Tuesday announced he would launch his second presidential bid under the umbrella of the Democratic primary. 

"We began the political revolution in the 2016 campaign, and now it's time to move that revolution forward," Sanders told Vermont Public Radio in an interview on Tuesday.

Sanders is entering an already crowded Democratic primary field, with many of the contenders championing ideas the Vermont senator has long pushed, such as "Medicare for all."

Recent polling appears to show Sanders being held in high regard by Democratic voters.

A Morning Consult poll released last month found that 22 percent of Democratic primary voters surveyed said they preferred Sanders, second to only former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBeto could give Biden and Bernie a run for their money Biden: 'I have the most progressive record of anybody running ... anybody who would run' H.R. 1 falls short of real reform MORE, who has yet to announce if he will make a bid for the White House.

— Julia Manchester