“We’ve talked a lot about the need to compete everywhere, and when we talked about a 57-state-and-territory strategy, we meant it,” Perez said.
The duo will rally in Maine on April 17 and wind through the South and Southwest until April 22, hitting Kentucky, Florida, Arizona and Nevada. More stops, and more DNC investments, are possible in Nebraska — where Democrats hope to win back the mayoralty of Omaha — and in Montana, where a Sanders-backed House candidate has begun to attract attention ahead of a special election.
“This is part of our effort to revitalize the Democratic Party, to turn it into a grass-roots party — to tell people that Donald Trump’s agenda is not what he promised them,” Sanders said. “On issue after issue, he’s turned his back on working people and sided with the millionaire class.”
Sanders was an early and vital backer of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Perez’s chief rival for the DNC job; he pointedly criticized Democrats for urging Perez into the race.
“Running for chair, Tom said that his views were not substantially different than Keith Ellison’s, who I strongly supported,” Sanders said. “I’m sorry he did not win. But during that campaign, Tom said that the Democratic Party had to be refocused, had to be rebuilt, and I trust that he will keep those promises. The fact that he’s prepared to travel with me around the country and pick up half the cost of this is a positive sign.”
Perez said that he and Sanders had met several times, most recently on Wednesday at his office near the Capitol. The week-long trip resembled shorter trips Perez and Ellison had taken together — the newsiest taking them to New Jersey, where Perez happily courted controversy by saying Republicans did “not give a s— about people.”
An outstanding issue, of whether Sanders would let the DNC use the email list he built during his 2016 presidential bid, had not been resolved.
“We haven’t had that discussion,” Perez said.