Left-leaning journalist: Sanders would be 'formidable candidate' against Trump

Left-leaning journalist Michael Tracey told Hill.TV in an interview that aired Friday on "Rising" that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE (I-Vt.) could be a formidable challenger against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE in 2020 if he is able to win the Democratic presidential primary. 

"It's just too early to say, but I think there are a lot of early indicators that, yes, he would be a formidable candidate against Trump," Tracey, who made the case for why Sanders is a formidable Democratic candidate in an op-ed for The Federalist this week, told hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on Wednesday. 

Tracey argued that Sanders's strength with Midwestern voters, many of whom Trump was able to win over the in 2016 general election, could hurt the president's standing in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. 

"Recall 2016 in the Democratic primaries, one of Bernie Sanders most surprising wins against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 race Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: High stakes at last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday MORE was the Michigan primary," he continued. "That I think spoke to some of his intrinsic strength in, especially the Upper Midwest." 

"He did extraordinarily well in Minnesota, where Trump actually came pretty close to beating Hillary," he said. "Just from a geographic standpoint, he has already demonstrated certain levels of aptitude for reaching voters in those states that swung to Trump." 

Sanders announced this week he was throwing his hat into the 2020 Democratic primary and subsequently made headlines by raising $6 million in the first 24 hours of his second presidential bid.  

However, a number of political observers have said Sanders's status as a 77-year-old white man could hurt him in a Democratic field that has turned out to be diverse and relatively young. 

— Julia Manchester