Conservative commentator: Sanders is 'only one' who could take on Trump in debates

Conservative commentator Johnny Burtka argued Tuesday that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security MORE (I-Vt.) is best equipped to take on President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE on the debate stage.

“Bernie clearly has the pugnacity,” Burtka, executive director for The American Conservative magazine, told Hill.TV. “He’s the only one that I think could ultimately take on Donald Trump on the debate stage.”

Burtka said that Sanders and fellow 2020 contender Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon MORE (D-Mass.) have effectively “amplified the progressive voice” in the Democratic race by largely avoiding direct attacks on each other.

“It seems like there’s been a multiplier effect in terms of the progressive energy that’s coming from Bernie and Warren,” he said.

“They’ve done a great job on the debate stage playing off each other, eventually they’re going to have to decide who's the best candidate.”

Warren and Sanders have been jockeying for second place in polls recently, behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday showed Warren and Sanders in a statistical tie among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters nationwide. Warren had 17 percent support to Sanders's 16 percent, the poll found.

The survey showed Biden still leading the crowded Democratic field with 30 percent support.

All three top-tier candidates are poised to take the stage Thursday night for the sixth Democratic debate. The debate is set to take place at Loyola Marymount University, despite a labor dispute that had threatened its prospects leading up to the event.

—Tess Bonn