Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced he would again run for president, promising in an interview Tuesday on “CBS This Morning” that that “we’re gonna win.”
Sanders aggressively challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016, and his focus on economic populism has helped shift the party leftward, as is evident as the field of 2020 candidates emerges.
He broke the news of his decision in an interview with Vermont Public Radio, but also appeared on “CBS This Morning.” He told hold John Dickerson that his campaign will trigger a grassroots movement that is “unprecedented in modern American history.”
He seemed to suggest that he will bring a substantial base of supporters from the start, given the unexpected strength of his 2016 race.
“I understand from the bottom of my heart that real change will never come about in this country unless there is a real struggle, unless millions of people stand up fight for the change,” he said.
In a video to supporters, he said, “Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice. Our campaign is about taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life.”
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Very soon after Sanders announced, CNN said that it would host a town hall with him next Monday in Washington. Wolf Blitzer will moderate.
Sanders signaled he will campaign on populist and progressive issues, pushing for free college tuition, a higher minimum wage, and expanded health care coverage.
His entry also may further highlight tensions between the more populist wings of the Democratic party and of moderates, as it did during the 2016 election.
Sanders himself is not a registered Democrat. He describes himself as a Democratic socialist. In his CBS interview, he noted that he is a member of the Democratic leadership and caucuses with the party, but said that the party needed to reach out to those who don’t identify with a party.
President Trump already is blasting Democratic candidates, with ideas such as Medicare for All and free college tuition, as a lurch toward socialism.
Sanders predicted Trump’s attacks.
“He’s going to appeal, he’s going to lie. He’s going to say, ‘Bernie Sanders wants the United States to become Venezuela,” Sanders told CBS.
“You got a president who is a demagogue. You got a president who is leading us into an authoritarian direction. I would hope the American people do not believe too much of what he says.”
Trump told reporters on Tuesday that “personally I think [Sanders] missed his time.”
“I wish Bernie well, it will be interesting to see how he does,” Trump said, adding that he was not treated “with respect” by Clinton.
Sanders walloped Clinton in the New Hampshire primary in 2016, a victory that showed that he was more than just a protest candidate against the presumptive front runner. He fell short in the delegate count, and his loss left lingering tensions between supporters of both candidates that dragged into the general election.
He did raise a significant amount from the entertainment industry during his last campaign — almost $1.3 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But he ran against the big money sums being raised by Clinton and the Democratic establishment. His supporters, in fact, protested Clinton when she headlined a high-dollar fundraiser at the home of George Clooney.
Sanders himself has taken on The Walt Disney Co., backing efforts by workers in Anaheim seeking a “living wage.” He appeared at a rally last June.
Sanders is 77, and if elected president, he would be 79. He would be far and away the oldest president elected. He told Dickerson that you have to look at “the totality of the person.”
“I have been blessed, thank God, with good health and good energy.”
Brent Lang contributed to this report.