Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Run 02/19 06:59
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose insurgent 2016
presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday that he
is running for president in 2020.
"Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump," the 77-year-old
self-described democratic socialist said in an email to supporters. "Our
campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on
the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice."
An enthusiastic progressive who embraces proposals ranging from Medicare for
All to free college tuition, Sanders stunned the Democratic establishment in
2016 with his spirited challenge to Hillary Clinton. While she ultimately
became the party's nominee, his campaign helped lay the groundwork for the
leftward lurch that has dominated Democratic politics in the Trump era.
The question now for Sanders is whether he can stand out in a crowded field
of Democratic presidential candidates who also embrace many of his policy ideas
and are newer to the national political stage. That's far different from 2016,
when he was Clinton's lone progressive adversary.
Still, there is no question that Sanders will be a formidable contender for
the Democratic nomination. He won more than 13 million votes in 2016 and dozens
of primaries and caucuses. He opens his campaign with a nationwide organization
and a proven small-dollar fundraising effort.
"We're gonna win," Sanders told CBS.
He said he was going to launch "what I think is unprecedented in modern
American history": a grassroots movement "to lay the groundwork for
transforming the economic and political life of this country."
And Sanders could be well positioned to compete in the nation's first
primary in neighboring New Hampshire, which he won by 22 points in 2016. But he
won't have the state to himself.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California, another Democratic presidential contender,
was in New Hampshire on Monday and said she'd compete for the state. She also
appeared to take a dig at Sanders.
"The people of New Hampshire will tell me what's required to compete in New
Hampshire," she told shoppers at a bookstore in Concord. "But I will tell you
I'm not a democratic socialist."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of nearby Massachusetts will be in New Hampshire on
One of the biggest questions surrounding Sanders' candidacy is how he'll
compete against someone like Warren, who shares many of his policy goals.
Warren has already launched her campaign and has planned an aggressive swing
through the early primary states.
Shortly after announcing her exploratory committee, Warren hired Brendan
Summers, who managed Sanders' 2016 Iowa campaign. Other staffers from Sanders'
first bid also have said they would consider working for other candidates in
The crowded field includes a number of other candidates who will likely make
strong appeals to the Democratic base including Harris and Sens. Cory Booker of
New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The
field could also grow, with a number of high-profile Democrats still
considering presidential bids, including former Vice President Joe Biden and
former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.
While Sanders had been working to lay the groundwork for a second campaign
for months, it was unclear whether he will be able to expand his appeal beyond
his largely white base of supporters. In 2016, Sanders notably struggled to
garner support from black voters, an issue that could become particularly
pervasive during a primary race that could include several non-white candidates.
Last month, he joined Booker at an event in Columbia, South Carolina,
marking the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. In 2016, Sanders lost the South
Carolina primary, which features a heavily black electorate, by 47 points.
Sanders also faces different pressures in the #MeToo era. Some of his male
staffers and supporters in 2016 were described as "Bernie bros" for their
treatment of women.
In the run-up to Sanders' 2020 announcement, persistent allegations emerged
of sexual harassment of women by male staffers during his 2016 campaign.
Politico and The New York Times reported several allegations of unwanted sexual
advances and pay inequity.
In an interview with CNN after the initial allegations surfaced, Sanders
apologized but also noted he was "a little busy running around the country
trying to make the case."
As additional allegations emerged, he offered a more unequivocal apology.
"What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a
progressive campaign --- or any campaign --- should be about," Sanders said
Jan. 10 on Capitol Hill. "Every woman in this country who goes to work today or
tomorrow has the right to make sure that she is working in an environment which
is free of harassment, which is safe and is comfortable, and I will do my best
to make that happen."