Prominent Democrats are more open to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders taking a leadership role in the party since their resounding loss in the previous election, The Hill reports.
"It continues to drive me a bit nuts that he continues to register as an independent but the bottom line is that he is a good Democrat," said Democratic strategist Jim Manley.
The Hill notes that Manley supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and publicly doubted Sanders' commitment to the Democratic Party.
"If you are concerned with labels, you might bristle at the notion of a registered Independent jockeying for control over the direction of the Democratic Party – and there were certainly some in the party apparatus that expressed precisely this sentiment during the 2016 campaign cycle," said Lynda Tran, another Democratic strategist.
"But if you're focused on policy ideas over party labels you might welcome the inclusion of his voice, and frankly other voices too, at a time when the Democratic Party is under intense attack and working on the path forward," she continued.
"At the end of the day, Bernie Sanders may be a registered Independent, but he has always caucused with Democrats and there is no question he continues to enjoy strong support among many members of the Democratic Party."
Former Sanders surrogate Bill Press, one of the senator's earliest backers, told the Hill that he found it "strange," and the he "was rather surprised that he went back to being an Independent but I don't think it matters."
He added, "People like his ideas. Bernie is Bernie. Whether he has an "I" or a "D" after his name … nobody cares."
Press hopes that Sanders' increased exposure will enable him to help elect Democrats across the country. Sanders, along with newly elected Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, are currently on a cross-country "unity tour," beginning in Maine.
"I talk to a lot of people who now believe that Democrats nominated the wrong candidate and they can't say for sure that Bernie would have won but they know Bernie was more in tune with the wave length of the American people [than Clinton]," he said. "He was an agent of change. Clinton was not."
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