Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is taking stronger positions on foreign policy compared to his White House bid four years ago, a shift that is largely credited to a top adviser hired after the 2016 campaign.
Matt Duss is the first person to hold the title of foreign policy adviser to Sanders. He was hired in 2017 in response to criticism that Sanders’s first presidential bid failed to lay out a comprehensive global agenda.
Duss first gained prominence in Washington while working at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive think tank founded in 2003 by John Podesta, a longtime political operative who later became campaign chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 White House bid.
At CAP, Duss wrote prolifically on Middle East issues, advocating for U.S. negotiations with Iran and engaging with political Islam in Egypt and Tunisia. Those stances put him at odds with established foreign policy thinking in Washington, especially since CAP was considered influential with the Obama administration’s Middle East policy.
Duss left the think tank in 2014 and became president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Three years later, he joined Sanders’s staff as foreign policy adviser.
Sen. Sanders has been clashing with the Center for American Progress and its president/CEO Neera Tanden, who was a close adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign.