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Sanders' Second Presidential Campaign Launches Amid Crowded Field

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

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders announced this morning that he is running for president for a second time. In 2016, he was the upstart challenger to Hillary Clinton. But this time there is a large field of Democrats entering the race and many support the same policies that brought Sanders into the limelight. Vermont political observers caution that this race will be more challenging for Sanders.
In Bernie Sanders’ video announcing his candidacy, he asks for unity in support of his agenda and paints President Donald Trump as the enemy of the people.  “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. I am running for president because, now more than ever, we need leadership that brings us together – not divides us up. Together we can create a nation that leads the world in the struggle for peace and for economic, racial, social and environmental justice.”

VT Digger political columnist Jon Margolis, the retired Chief Political Correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, says while Sanders ran a very credible 2016 campaign, his challenge now will be setting himself apart from the growing field.  “He’s not the only one talking about a $15 minimum wage or more accessibility to college or Medicare-for-all or at least universal health care. But you know he’s consistent in what he has to say and he’s articulate and he’s vocal and he keeps pounding the same themes and that can be very helpful in a campaign.”

Middlebury College Professor of Political Science Bert Johnson believes Sanders has been planning a 2020 campaign for a while.  “I think he’s on a mission and he’s got some advantages over some of the other candidates. It’s definitely going to be more challenging for him to lock up that liberal base than it was in the last campaign just because there are more people there. But he’s got his name recognition. He’s got his fundraising network and he’s got his list of activists and those are three things that other candidates would love to have.”

UVM Professor of Political Science Garrison Nelson says Sanders enters the race as a potential frontrunner, but there are looming problems.  “He does have liabilities.  His inability to connect with black voters which hurt him in the primaries in 2016; these sexual harassment charges from each campaign which are really very, very troublesome in the MeToo era; and he’ll be 78 in September so. But I cannot believe that without a candidate filled with so many problems like Hillary Clinton that it’s going to be quite as easy for him to win over 20 states as he did in 2016.”

Sanders joins a Democratic presidential primary field that includes 11 announced candidates and roughly 15 others who could enter the race.

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