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Bernie Sanders Officially Enters 2020 Presidential Race

Bernie Sanders  (file photo)
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Bernie Sanders (file photo)

Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has officially entered the 2020 race for president, taking a second shot at the White House.
The independent from Vermont officially announced his race for the Democratic nomination Tuesday morning on Vermont Public Radio. He simultaneously released a video and email announcement.  “Hi I’m Bernie Sanders. I’m running for President.”

In his video message explaining why he decided to again run for president, Sanders echoed themes that he introduced in his 2016 campaign.   “Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. It is not only about winning the Democratic nomination and the general election. Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”

Sanders asks that at least a million people join his campaign to complete the effort that was started in his 2016 campaign.  “Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were radical and they were extreme. Well, three years have come and gone. All of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans. Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for.”

Vermont Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, a Progressive who supported Sanders in 2016, says he’s excited.  “I think it’s fantastic that there’s so many people running with a progressive message around you know Medicare-for-all, climate change, economic justice issues you know and down the line issues that he really brought to the table over these last many years and particularly elevated with his campaign two years ago. I think it’s really a matter of catch-up for the others and I think he certainly starts with a much bigger base clearly than he had nationwide two years ago, or three ago now. And I think he’s well positioned.”

Vermont Democratic Party Chair Terje Anderson says the party will officially remain neutral until after the primary.  But he notes there’s a lot of excitement being expressed on his Facebook feed.  “There’s a lot of Vermont Democrats that are very committed to Bernie. We saw that in 2016 where he got 87 percent of the primary vote here. You know that was a different race than 2020 and so it’s going to play out differently. But I’m hearing a lot of grassroots excitement about his campaign.”

Sanders faces different dynamics in the 2020 race than he did in 2016.  Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis says that will likely make it much more challenging.   "In 2016 he was the only candidate running against Hilary Clinton. In 2020 there’s going to be a very large field of candidates and there are other candidates who are competing in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that he had all to himself in 2016.  And the calendar hurts him this year too because quite a few states have moved their  primaries up earlier in the process including California and Texas, both of which are states with a lot of diverse voters and that’s a demographic that Sanders has had difficulty with.”

President Trump’s campaign issued a statement saying voters would reject Sanders’ socialism. “The American people will reject an agenda of sky-high tax rates, government-run health care and coddling dictators like those in Venezuela. Only President Trump will keep America free, prosperous and safe."

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