Independent senator says he may run for president as a Democrat

September 15, 2014
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Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is considering a run for president — as a Democrat.

“I am thinking about running for president,” Sanders, a self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist,” said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Running as a Democrat — that’s something that I’m looking at right now.”

The 73-year-old, who has served in Congress — both in the House and Senate — for more than two decades, is in Iowa this weekend to test the waters for 2016.

“I am the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress — that’s how I’ve always won in the state of Vermont,” Sanders said. “One of the reasons I’m going to Iowa is to get a sense of how people feel about it. The truth is, [there is] profound anger at both political parties, more and more people are becoming Independent.”

The Brooklyn-born Sanders said he may run as a Democrat because setting up “a 50-state infrastructure as an Independent” could be too difficult.

Hillary Clinton, widely considered the favorite among possible 2016 Democratic candidates, is also in Iowa, headlining the Harkin Steak Fry put on by Iowa Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin in Des Moines on Sunday. But Sanders said his trip to Iowa, and his consideration of a run for president, has nothing to do with the former secretary of state.

“A) I don’t know if Hillary Clinton is running, and b) I don’t know what she is running on,” Sanders said. “But this is what I do know: I know the middle class in this country is collapsing, I know the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider. I know there is profound anger at the greed on Wall Street, anger at corporate America, anger at the policitical establishment — and anger, by the way, at the media establishment. The American people want real change, and I’ve been taking on the big money interests and special interests all of my political life.

[Related: Hillary Clinton returns to Iowa as talk of 2016 picks up]

“The issue,” Sanders added, “is not Hillary Clinton.”

“We need a political revolution in this country,” he told voters in Dubuque, Iowa, on Saturday, during a three-city tour of the Hawkeye State. “Politics is terribly important, and what happens in Washington and state capitals is also enormously important.”

On “Meet the Press,” Sanders criticized President Barack Obama for not being in tune with the people who voted for him.

“The bottom line is he has not tapped the anger and frustration the American people feel on many, many issues,” Sanders said. “The only way we bring about change is when the American people are mobilzied.”

Sanders also bashed the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, whose donor network was responsible for spending an estimated $407 million during 2012 election cycle to further their conservative agenda.

“You know what their agenda is? You know what they believe in? I’ll tell you what they believe in,” Sanders said. “This is what they told us: They want to end Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. More tax breaks for the rich and large corporations. Nobody in America wants that except the billionaire class. And yet they are now able to put hundreds of millions of dollars into the political process. This is a real danger to American democracy.”

Another danger, Sanders said, is anointing Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee before she even announces her candidacy.

“I don’t think anybody believes that anointment is a good idea, that anybody is ‘entitled to a nomination’ or any other position,” Sanders told CNN earlier this week. “I think what people in Iowa and through the country want to hear is a vigorous debate about the most important issues which impact their lives. It is not to say to somebody, ‘Oh, thank you, you are going to be anointed as our candidate.’”

  • Politics & Government
  • Elections
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Hillary Clinton

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