https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/19/us/p ... -2020.html
Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and 2016 Democratic primary runner-up whose populist policy agenda has helped push the party to the left, embarked on Tuesday on a second run for president, in a bid that would will test whether he could retain the anti-establishment appeal he enjoyed with many liberal voters three years ago.
A self-styled democratic socialist whose calls for “Medicare for all,” a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free public colleges have become pillars of the party’s left wing, Mr. Sanders is among the best-known politicians to join an already crowded Democratic field and one of the most outspoken against President Trump, whom he has repeatedly called a “pathological liar” and a “racist.”
“Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were ‘radical’ and ‘extreme,’” Mr. Sanders said on Tuesday in an early-morning email to supporters, citing those health, economic and education policies as well as combating climate change and raising taxes on wealthy Americans.
“Well, three years have come and gone. And, as result of millions of Americans standing up and fighting back, all of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans,” he said.
[Here is where Mr. Sanders stands on the issues.]
Mr. Sanders did not immediately announce where he would campaign first, nor did he disclose any staffing decisions for his political operation. His senior advisers have been spending the weeks leading up to the announcement attempting to recruit a more diverse array of aides than were on his earlier campaign.
A sensation in 2016, Mr. Sanders is facing a far different electoral landscape this time around. Unlike his last bid for the White House, when he was the only liberal challenger to an establishment-backed front-runner, he will be contending with a crowded and diverse field of candidates, including popular Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who have adopted his populist mantle.
Victories in the 2018 midterm election by women, minorities and first-time candidates also suggest that many Democrats may prefer fresh energy, something that skeptics believe Mr. Sanders could struggle to deliver. A 77-year-old whose left-wing message has remained largely unchanged in his decades-long career, Mr. Sanders will also need to improve his support from black voters and quell the unease about his campaign’s treatment of women that has been disclosed in recent news accounts, and that has prompted two public apologies.
Yet almost immediately after making his announcement, Mr. Sanders drew criticism for his response to Vermont Public Radio when asked if he thought he best represented the current Democratic Party.
“We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age,” Mr. Sanders said. “I think we have got to try to move us toward a nondiscriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.”
The Trump re-election campaign issued a statement about Mr. Sanders that reflected the president’s strategy of labeling his Democratic opponents as “socialists.” The press secretary for the Trump campaign, Kayleigh McEnany, said Mr. Sanders had already won the Democratic debate because “every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism.” The statement also criticized Mr. Sanders for supporting higher taxes on wealthy Americans to help finance “Medicare for all.”
In an interview on CBS This Morning, Mr. Sanders did not shy away from calling himself a democratic socialist.
Mr. Trump, Mr. Sanders said, is “going to say, ‘Bernie Sanders wants the United States to become Venezuela.’”
“Bernie Sanders does not want to have the United States become the horrific economic situation that unfortunately exists in Venezuela right now,” he said. “What Bernie Sanders wants is to learn from countries around the world why other countries are doing a better job of dealing with income and wealth inequality than we are.”
Mr. Sanders will start with several advantages, including the foundation of a 50-state organization; a massive lead among low-dollar donors that is roughly equivalent to the donor base of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined; and a cache of fervent, unwavering supporters. A coveted speaker, he is still capable of electrifying crowds in a way few politicians can. He enjoys wide name recognition, and several early polls on the 2020 race had Mr. Sanders running second behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
[Check out the 2020 Democratic field with our candidate tracker.]
And while rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley have siphoned off some of his authority over the progressive wing of the party, he still claims to have spawned a “political revolution” that, true revolution or not, has ignited a generation of young, socialist-leaning voters and has reshaped the Democratic Party. While Mr. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, he remains an independent and has not joined the party.
Mr. Sanders is also partly responsible for the party’s decision last year to overhaul its presidential nomination process, including sharply reducing the influence of superdelegates and increasing the transparency around debates — factors he felt greatly favored Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Sign Up for On Politics With Lisa Lerer
A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont marched with others from a prayer service at Zion Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., to the state house last month during an event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont marched with others from a prayer service at Zion Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., to the state house last month during an event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
Asked in his interview with CBS what would be different about this presidential run compared to 2016, Mr. Sanders replied bluntly: “We’re going to win.”
“Bottom line,” he said, “it is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated.” Though he had harsh words for the president, he said he was fond of the five other senators who were running for the Democratic nomination. “They are in some cases my friends,” he said in the interview, which was broadcast shortly after his Tuesday announcement.
With his booming voice and familiar wide-armed grip at the lectern, Mr. Sanders has long positioned himself as a champion of the working class and a passionate opponent of Wall Street and the moneyed elite. His remarks often include diatribes against “the millionaihs and billionaihs” — one of his most common refrains is that the “three wealthiest people in America own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent” — as well as denunciations of “super PACs” and the influence of big money on politics. In particular, he has sharply criticized Amazon and Walmart over their wages and treatment of workers.
In his email to supporters, as well as a campaign announcement video, Mr. Sanders laid out a litany of policy issues, familiar to anyone who has followed him through the years: universal health care, tuition-free public college, women’s reproductive rights, lower prescription drug prices, criminal justice reform.
“Our campaign is about taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life,” he said.
While some presidential candidates have avoided direct broadsides against President Trump, Mr. Sanders — ever combative — addressed his potential opponent head on.
“You know as well as I do that we are living in a pivotal and dangerous moment in American history,” he said. “We are running against a president who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction.”
Born in Brooklyn, with an accent to match, Mr. Sanders ran unsuccessfully in the 1970s for governor and United States senator in Vermont before being elected mayor of Burlington in 1981. For 16 years, he served as the only congressman in the state before he was elected to the Senate in 2006.
Mr. Sanders has been a modest legislator and something of a lone wolf in Washington, promoting largely the same legislative agenda since his early days as a mayor. He voted against the Iraq War and, in 2008, he was one of roughly two dozen senators to vote against the $700 billion bailout of big banks.
And while he is often viewed as a pesky left-wing gadfly, he is also known to reach across the aisle, working on legislation with Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Senator John McCain of Arizona, both Republicans. He has rationalized voting for the 1994 crime bill, now heavily criticized for some of its draconian provisions, by saying he had favored progressive parts of the bill, including the Violence Against Women Act, while strongly opposing measures that would lead to mass incarceration.
Mr. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in congressional history, a point of pride for him but one of consternation and annoyance for some Democrats who are quick to suggest he does not have the party’s interests at heart. Some Democrats blame him for Mrs. Clinton’s loss in 2016, saying his anti-establishment rhetoric during his campaign inflamed divisions in the party that proved insurmountable.
Mr. Sanders largely avoided scrutiny during his 2016 presidential run but he will likely face more direct attacks from his opponents and more attention from the news media in a second bid for the White House.
One 2016 campaign issue that will almost certainly resurface is his record on gun control, Democratic strategists have said, given the intensity of the debate around gun violence following recent mass shootings. In 2005, Mr. Sanders voted for a law that granted immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers from most liability lawsuits. Mr. Sanders has also come under fire for support he received from the N.R.A. when he was running for Congress in 1990, in part because he vowed not to support a bill that mandated a waiting period for handgun sales.
Though his message is well worn, Mr. Sanders has indicated that he is trying to remedy weaknesses from his first presidential campaign. In recent months, he has made a series of trips to the South, where in 2016 he drew less than 20 percent of the black vote. On the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this year, he made a two-day swing through South Carolina — where black voters made up about 60 percent of the Democratic primary vote in 2016 — that included addressing supporters and students and speaking with lawmakers.
In a radio interview with Mark Thompson, a progressive African-American radio host, Mr. Sanders said his message included a call to “end institutional racism” though he only offered some broad agenda items for addressing inequality.
“We’ve got to pay special attention to those people who have been hard hit economically, we have to invest in urban communities, and we have to deal with all of the massive disparities that currently exist in American society,” he said.
He has also tried to shore up his foreign policy credentials, becoming a vocal critic of the United States support of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Late last year, the Senate passed a resolution, which Mr. Sanders helped introduce, to end American military assistance for the kingdom’s war there.
He raised a million dollars online within just a few hours of the announcement.
Bernie's decision will doubtless provoke controversy, and I will reiterate that I wish he and Warren were not both running, to avoid the risk of splitting the progressive vote. At least I don't think it will be as polarized a race as last times, since so many candidates are running. Hopefully Sanders will do what he did in 2016- fire up young progressives, push the Democrats to the Left, and keep issues that are often sidelined front and centre. However, in some ways I think that he will face a tougher race this time, despite his higher name recognition out the gate. He'll be running against other strong progressives, and the Democratic Party as a whole has moved further to the Left (albeit a lot of that is thanks to Bernie). So I feel like others may steal his thunder. He is also going to have to contend with the allegations of sexual harassment and unequal pay on his last campaign, and show that he can win over more of the black and latino vote this time around. And deal with the simple fact that he is a white man, in a time when the Democratic Party increasingly relies on the votes of women and minorities, and there is a large block of the party who feel we are past due for a female President, especially in the era of Me Too. And, ultimately, he will have to prove that he can unite the party behind him, rather than his nomination triggering a mass exodus of centrists to Howard Schultz or another like him.
That said, going off recent polling of the support for candidates and likely candidates in the Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders is now the most popular candidate who has actually announced. For the first time, therefore, Bernie supporters can bask in the fact that Bernie Sanders is, for the time being at least, the Democratic front-runner (though I expect that to end when and if Joe Biden declares).
For the time being, my support still leans towards Warren. But at this point I believe that it will most likely end up being a three-way primary between Harris, Biden, and the Bern. In that scenario I probably would
lean Sanders, but it will depend on how the candidates handle themselves over the remaining year or so before the primary. In Harris and Biden's case, they need to show me that they will embrace progressive positions and can get progressive voters enthusiastically behind them. In Bernie's case, he needs to show he can win over enough minorities and moderates.
Edit: Another factor for Bernie is that a lot of the more rabidly "anti-establishment" supporters of his will probably not back him this time around- they regard him as a traitor for not running an independent campaign against Hillary after he lost the nomination.
So he can't necessarily rely on his entire base returning to him, although I think those nuts are a fairly small percentage of his supporters (I hope).