Sahil Kapur | Republican operatives are trying to help Bernie Sanders win the nomination

<p>U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, gestures as he speaks at the Californi Democrats State Convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, April 30, 2011. Sanders called on Democrats to work together to stop what he calls the GOP's attack on the middle class.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)</p>

Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg:

Republican operatives are having a strange crush on Bernie Sanders.

During Sunday night’s Democratic debate, the Republican National Committee made the unusual move of sending no fewer than four real-time e-mails to reporters defending the self-described democratic socialist from attacks by Hillary Clinton or echoing his message against her. Based on their content, one could be forgiven for thinking the RNC communiques came from the Sanders campaign.

One RNC e-mail, which was titled “Clinton’s Misleading Health Care Attack,” defended the Vermont senator from what it described as “the Clinton campaign’s inaccurate remarks on Sanders’ single-payer plan,” and quoted news articles that featured rebuttals of her arguments. A second message countered Clinton’s attacks on Sanders over gun control by pointing out her gun-friendly statements in the past. Two other e-mails sought to bolster Sanders’ case that Clinton is too close to Wall Street and the drug industry.

Sean Spicer, the chief strategist and spokesman for the RNC, spent much of the evening tweeting Sanders-friendly commentary on the debate, often with the pro-Sanders hashtag #FeelTheBern. At one point, Spicer gently chided Sanders for what he deemed a poor response to a question and added, “come on we are trying to help u.”

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