Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) announced on Tuesday that he was jumping into the 2020 presidential race, putting to rest months of speculation over whether he would once again seek the Democratic nomination after an unsuccessful bid in 2016.
“I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first,” Sanders said during an interview on Vermont Public Radio. “And what I promise to do is, as I go around the country, is to take the values that all of us in Vermont are proud of — a belief in justice, in community, in grass-roots politics, in town meetings — that’s what I’m going to carry all over this country.”
“We began the political revolution in the 2016 campaign, and now it’s time to move that revolution forward,” Sanders added.
Sanders in the interview described President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE as “an embarrassment to our country.”
“I think he is a pathological liar,” he added. “I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants.”
He also announced his White House bid in a video posted to Twitter early Tuesday.
I’m running for president. I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least 1 million people from across the country. Say you’re in: https://t.co/KOTx0WZqRf pic.twitter.com/T1TLH0rm26
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 19, 2019
The senator, a self-described democratic socialist who has emerged as a leader of the progressive movement, enters the Democratic nominating contest as one of the most well-known and most liberal candidates to date.
He will compete in a crowded primary field that has already drawn a handful of candidates, including several of his colleagues, Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.).
“Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were ‘radical’ and ‘extreme,’ ” Sanders told supporters in an email early Tuesday, according to The New York Times.
“Well, three years have come and gone. And, as result of millions of Americans standing up and fighting back, all of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans,” he reportedly added.
In entering the race, Sanders, 77, is hoping to capture the nomination of a party that has moved to the left in recent years on issues like minimum wage and universal health care — two issues that Sanders has championed over a nearly 30-year career in Congress.
Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign asserted Tuesday that Sanders “has already won the debate in the Democrat primary, because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism.”
“But the American people will reject an agenda of sky-high tax rates, government-run health care and coddling dictators like those in Venezuela,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
The 2020 race will be Sanders’s second shot at the White House at a time when Trump remains deeply unpopular among Democrats.
He mounted an insurgent bid for the Democratic nomination in 2016, taking on former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE, who was widely seen at the time as a shoo-in for the nomination.
Despite Clinton’s sweeping national profile and adept fundraising abilities, Sanders managed to win a handful of primary contests, including in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, largely outperforming the expectations of many political observers.
Still, the progressive firebrand eventually ceded the nomination to Clinton, but only after intense infighting between progressives and more establishment-minded Democrats.
In the years since 2016, Sanders has come to wield significant influence in Democratic circles.
His proposal for a “Medicare for all” health care system — once seen by many in the party as a fringe proposal — has received the backing of a number of Democrats, including Gillibrand, Harris and Warren.
And Sanders crisscrossed the country in 2018 to campaign for candidates who aligned themselves with his brand of progressivism.
While Sanders has become a kind of progressive superstar in recent years, his presidential bid is likely to put him at the center of an ongoing debate in the Democratic Party over race, age and identity.
The Democratic primary field is shaping up to be among the largest and most diverse in the party’s history, and some Democrats argue that Sanders does not reflect the ethnic, gender or racial diversity of the electorate that handed Democrats sweeping victories in the House the 2018 midterms.
If Sanders scores the Democratic nomination in 2020, he would be the oldest person to win either major parties’ presidential nod — 78 years old at the time of the Democratic National Convention.
What’s more, Sanders has faced some criticism in recent weeks over claims that his 2016 presidential campaign failed to adequately address allegations by female staffers that they suffered sexual harassment from campaign officials.
The Vermont senator has since apologized and has vowed to crack down on misconduct.
But Sanders’s allies argue that his political brand — focused largely on curbing the influence of Wall Street and aiding working-class America — makes him competitive in many of the states that Trump carried in 2016, like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Supporters also tout the senator as authentic and ahead of many of his colleagues on issues like health care and affordable higher education — positions that have been adopted by an increasing number of Democrats in recent years.
A Republican National Committee spokesman on Tuesday called Sanders “a self-avowed socialist who wants to double your taxes so the government can take over your health care.”
“The vast majority of voters oppose his radical agenda, just like they are going to oppose all the 2020 Democrats who have rushed to embrace it,” Michael Ahrens said in a statement.
Early polls show Sanders finishing near the top of the pack of potential Democratic contenders.
A Des Moines Register/CNN/MediaCom poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers conducted in December showed the Vermont senator in second place, after former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE, who has not yet announced whether he will run in 2020.
A Feb. 19 straw poll by the liberal blog Daily Kos showed Sanders in first place, far ahead of Harris, Warren, Biden and others.
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— This report was last updated at 8:48 p.m.