It’s not a definite declaration, he noted in interview published March 6, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could contend in the 2016 presidential contest, he acknowledged.
When asked by The Nation’s John Nichols if he planned to seek the Oval Office, Sanders replied:
“I am prepared to run for president of the United States.”
He’s begun no official campaigning, he said, but has been meeting with voters on recent tours across the country, where’s found many independents to be alienated by polarization of the major political parties.
“(T)his country faces more serious problems than at any time since the Great Depression, and there is a horrendous lack of serious political discourse or ideas out there that can address these crises, and that somebody has got to represent the working-class and the middle-class of this country in standing up to the big-money interests who have so much power over the economic and political life of this country.”
Uniting those independent voters would be key to any campaign, Sanders said:
“We’ve got to bring together trade unionists and working families, our minority communities, environmentalists, young people, the women’s community, the gay community, seniors, veterans, the people who in fact are the vast majority of the American population. We’ve got to create a progressive agenda and rally people around that agenda.”
His own independent status may have to change for a presidential campaign, though, he said. Because he’s caucused with its throughout his terms in congress, Sanders said he might join the Democratic Party if he runs. To campaign as a third-party candidate would be a counter-effective “Nader dilemma,” he said.
Sanders acknowledges that Hillary Clinton has an early lead in the race for Democratic Party nomination, but questions if she’d guide the country to needed progress.
“I like Hillary; she is very, very intelligent; she focuses on issues. But I think, sad to say, that the Clinton type of politics is not the politics certainly that I’m talking about.”
Any development of a full campaign won’t take place until after this year’s election cycle, though, Sanders said.
Sanders’ political career began with the Liberty Union Party in the early 1970s. After identifying with the Socialist party, he was first elected as mayor of Burlington, Vt. In 1981, defeating Republicans and Democrats alike – even beating one opponent co-endorsed by both parties – for four consecutive terms.
Sanders was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 and to the U.S. Senate in 2006. He took 71 percent of the vote in his 2012 reelection.