Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) second bid for the White House is barely out the gate, but the lawmaker already has a formidable war chest after leveraging the support of small donors who propelled him to the top of the Democratic pack in 2016.
Sanders has raised more than $4 million from nearly 150,000 people in the 12 hours since he announced his run, campaign officials said Tuesday. The number far surpasses other prominent Democrats who have launched their own bids and is more than double the $1.5 million raised by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in her first 24 hours.
“The only way we will win this election and create a government and economy that work for all is with a grassroots movement ― the likes of which has never been seen in American history,” Sanders said in a message to supporters on Tuesday. “They may have the money and power. We have the people.”
The senator’s campaign said the average size of the donations, about $27, mirrored the small-scale support seen in 2016.
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) February 20, 2019
When Bernie Sanders launched his bid for the presidency in 2015, he was dismissed by political and media elites as an outsider with radical ideas that would prevent him from being taken seriously by Democratic primary and caucus voters.
Now, as Sanders mounts his second bid for the presidency, the same political and media aristocrats speculate about whether Sanders will have a hard time distinguishing himself in a field of candidates who echo his stances on issues ranging from Medicare for All to wage hikes to tuition-free college and implementing a Green New Deal.
Sanders won the ideas primary four years ago, an accomplishment he nodded to in his announcement on Tuesday of his 2020 bid: “Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were ‘radical,’ and ‘extreme.’ We were told that Medicare for All, a $15 an hour minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges and universities, aggressively combating climate change, demanding that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes, were all concepts that the American people would never accept. 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.”
The appeal of the ideas Sanders raised with his 2016 presidential bid, to young people in particular, transformed the politics of the Democratic Party and the nation. Now, everyone in the party—well, just about everyone—wants to identify as a bold progressive. As such, we are told, Sanders is just one of the crowd of similarly inclined contenders bidding for a chance to take down Donald Trump.
So is Sanders a victim of his own success? Has he so expanded the range of debate in the Democratic Party that he, himself, is no longer viable?
Don’t bet against the guy just yet.
As media and political elites misunderstood what made Sanders stand out in 2016, they are now misunderstanding what will make him stand out in 2020.
Too early to endorse, but very happy to see Bernie Sanders running again! Medicare for All, the $15/hr minimum wage, free college tuition — all ideas pushed by Bernie in 2016 (they called him crazy 4 this) and now all polls show the MAJORITY of Americans take the same position!
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2019
t’s official: Bernie Sanders announced today that he’s going to run for president and lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country. His decision comes not a moment too soon.
After all, if you think things are bad now, imagine if Bernie Sanders hadn’t run for president in 2016. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had swept the primaries that year, easily parrying Martin O’Malley’s feeble blows and a few charming Lincoln Chafee debate performances.
Trump would have still beaten Clinton, but his charlatan, rightwing populism would have been the only outlet for those angry at the status quo. More than anything else, dejection would reign among voters. The Democrats would have heightened their focus on winning over “respectable” anti-Trump Republicans in the suburbs, with depoliticized calls to “fix” Obamacare, find “realistic solutions” to climate change, and make higher education “accessible”.
Forget Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: in the early days of 2019 this would be the party of Michael Bloomberg. No surprise, in this scenario, that Trump would be polling narrowly ahead of all his contenders, the billionaire Michael Bloomberg included.
But Bernie did run in 2016 – and not just for a single campaign, but something far greater. Sanders reintroduced working-class politics in the US. It was a style based on a simple message: you work hard, we’re going to get you the dignity and security you deserve, and we’re going to fight the millionaires and billionaires standing in the way. It was a politics, in other words, that created a common narrative of struggle in which the protagonists were those trying to get by in an unfair and unequal country.
Today, Sanders is viewed favorably among most Americans, even more so among black voters than white ones, and is among the best known political figures on Earth. The once obscure junior senator from Vermont has come a long way. If Joe Biden doesn’t run, Sanders seems to be the favorite at the start of this campaign cycle – polls even show him ahead of Elizabeth Warren in her home state of Massachusetts.
His campaign infrastructure going into the primaries is also unrivaled. Sanders received the most individual campaign contributions in history – his March 2016 FEC filing alone, in a month when he received $77m in donations from those giving less than $200, was 188,613 pages long. With far more expertise and extensive email lists, Sanders won’t be starting from scratch this time around.
The young people that gave Sanders more primary votes than Clinton and Trump combined in 2016 are also primed to come out again for him. Where’s the comparable group of dedicated canvassers and social media partisans ready to back Biden?
We need a president who understands that climate change is real, is an existential threat to our country and the entire planet, and that we can generate massive job creation by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 20, 2019
Hours after announcing his candidacy for president Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt., secured the endorsement of his seatmate, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who backed Hillary Clinton in the last Democratic presidential primary.
In a reversal from 2016, Leahy immediately threw his support behind Vermont’s junior senator and his campaign for the White House.
“We have a strong field of candidates, and Bernie’s entry makes the field even stronger,” Leahy said. “I’m proud to support my fellow Vermonter, a proven leader with a strong message.”
Sanders joins a crowded, high-profile group of 2020 candidates that is only expected to grow in the coming months.
Vermont’s sole member of the House of Representatives, Peter Welch, who supported Sanders in 2016, again endorsed the senator on Tuesday.
“Bernie Sanders is a welcome voice in this campaign. He has a proven, powerful, and compelling message of economic fairness and environmental justice that will resonate across America,” Welch said in a statement.
— Nick Langley (@nickolaslangley) February 20, 2019
He’s a 77-year-old socialist who’s abrasive when he’s in a good mood, and who’s still blamed by many Democrats for Hillary Clinton losing to Donald Trump. But go ahead, try to argue that Bernie Sanders isn’t the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic race right now.
After making his second presidential run official on Tuesday, Sanders blew past every other announced candidate’s early fundraising numbers—$3.3 million in the first few eight hours, more than double the huge $1.5 million Kamala Harris raised in the whole first day—and he’s expecting to easily hit the 1 million website sign-ups he asked for as a first show of support for his campaign.
For all the more conventional Democrats who greeted the news of his candidacy with sighs of “Oh no!” or “Give me a break,” no one else running could do that.
Sanders has moved quickly in an attempt to show that he’s a more serious candidate than four years ago, when he announced his campaign during a break from the Senate floor, gave a few harried answers to the questions from the few reporters who had showed up, and then said he had to get back to vote.
This time, he started with a carefully constructed rollout, with a slick announcement video, a sit-down interview on CBS This Morning, and a media tour. “Sisters and brothers,” he wrote to his huge email list Tuesday morning, “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.”
A full operation is being put together, with the assumption that he will have well over $200 million in online fundraising to draw from. That includes top leadership of the campaign meant to illustrate the diversity of his support, demographically and geographically. Faiz Shakir, a former aide to Harry Reid, is leaving his job as the political director of the American Civil Liberties Union to be the campaign manager. In addition to his deep political experience, he will be the first Muslim presidential-campaign manager in history. Analilia Mejia, an organizer of Colombian and Dominican descent who most recently directed the Fight for $15 and Earned Sick Days campaigns in New Jersey and previously worked for the New Jersey Working Families Party, will be the political director. The deputy political director will be Sarah Badawi, who was most recently the government-affairs director for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group that led the effort to draft Elizabeth Warren into the 2012 Senate race, and later worked on her campaign.
Their organization will send out an array of emails, videos, and Twitter-friendly GIFs, which Sanders and his team hope to use to capture the sensation of his 2016 campaign and turn it into an overwhelming movement.
— NC For Bernie #BernieSquad 🌹 (@NCForBernie) February 19, 2019
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has tapped Faiz Shakir to serve as his campaign manager for his second run at the White House, The Daily Beast has learned.
In hiring Shakir, Sanders brings into the fold one of the Democratic Party’s better-traveled operatives—an official with limited campaign experience but with ties to the party’s think tank infrastructure, its Hill operations, and the larger progressive universe.
Shakir joins the Sanders operation from the American Civil Liberties Union where he served as national political director since early 2017. Before joining the ACLU, he was a senior adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and before that he worked with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He first made a name for himself as an editor at the website ThinkProgress, the news arm associated with, though editorially independent of, the powerhouse Democratic think-tank Center for American Progress.
Shakir held a meeting with his team at the ACLU at noon on Tuesday to announce that he was leaving to join the Sanders campaign, The Daily Beast has learned. His departure is expected to be announced imminently by the civil-liberties giant. Shakir, 39, is almost certainly the first campaign manager of a major presidential campaign who identifies as a Muslim. His candidate, Sanders, is Jewish.
Bernie Sanders's campaign Manager ✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿
The face of the first-ever Muslim American to run a presidential campaign, Faiz Shakir.👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿 pic.twitter.com/lMIMQI8oRt
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) February 19, 2019
Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday that he will run for president. This should not come as a shock, considering the wheels have been in motion for such an announcement since he ended his previous campaign four years ago.
In a sense, the campaign never ended. Immediately upon his (tepid, but notable) endorsement of Hillary Clinton last time around, activists began planning for this day.
In that spirit, let’s review some of the attack lines that will be used against Bernie by his more dedicated Democratic partisan detractors, many of whom are in a state of blithering rage right now.
Bernie Is. Not. A. Democrat
This is the aggrieved refrain you hear over and over on social media, largely from Democratic haters of Bernie who are still enraged about the 2016 primary for one reason or another. (The refrain is usually rendered in all-caps, often with frenzied “clap” emojis interspersed between the words for maximum irritant effect).
Of course, the haters fail to grasp that not being a Democrat is actually central to his appeal considering voters increasingly distrust and loathe both parties. Nevertheless, there will likely be fruitless attempts to block him from contention on the grounds that he’s not a full-fledged party member, even though the Democratic Party of Vermont formally recognizes him as such, notwithstanding his personal registration.
Anyway, Bernie is now very well integrated into the wider Democratic Party infrastructure, owing to the leverage he accrued from the past campaign. Much of the Senate caucus, especially those with national ambitions, have adopted the bulk of his policy positions, which were seen as radically farfetched just a few years ago.
He retains prominent committee assignments. He writes op-eds with Chuck Schumer, for Pete’s sake. So the notion that he’s some outside agitator trying to sabotage Democrats is silly (some on the farther left would actually prefer if he did that), but it won’t mollify the partisans still sore about Hillary’s coronation being interrupted.
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) February 19, 2019
Bernie Sanders’s second run for the White House looks like it will be harder than his first. But in some ways, it may also be easier.
Vermont’s independent senator will have to share the progressive lane in 2020 with other top-tier Democratic candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who doesn’t have to take a back seat to Sanders when it comes to being a progressive.
Instead of being the liberal challenger to Hillary Clinton, Sanders, 77, faces a crowded field where he’s the returning candidate battling fresher faces such as Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
He also must deal with the fallout from 2016, including grudges from Clinton supporters who feel Sanders cost her the election and Democrats who don’t want to turn their party over to an independent.
At the same time, it would be hard to argue that the Sanders path to a Democratic presidential nomination is more unlikely in the 2020 cycle than it was four years ago.
Sanders is no longer an unknown candidate. He’s a household name and is getting the attention and money that come with political success. His campaign said it raised $3.3 million Tuesday, the day of his announcement. In comparison, Harris raised $1.5 million during her first 24 hours, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) raised $1 million in 48 hours.
Once an upstart challenger and an unknown, Sanders now enjoys a loyal grass-roots organization in every state in the country — a point allies were happy to highlight on Tuesday.
And it’s possible the large Democratic field will leave Sanders standing alone at the end, if Democrats are divided among a number of candidates and a core group sticks with him.
Sanders has done more than any other politician in modern America to sound the alarm, and mobilize the public to reclaim our democracy and economy. For that alone, we are in his enduring debt. https://t.co/MOWtUFY9tq
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) February 19, 2019
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said his presidential campaign, which he formally launched on Tuesday, would have the toughest rules in place to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.
“We are going to have the strongest protocols to protect women and anybody else against any form of harassment,” Sanders said during an interview with CBS News. “We are going to be training every employee who works for us and we’re going to give people who feel they’ve been harassed the opportunity to talk to people outside of the campaign.”
He added that it “breaks [his] heart” to have heard about the sexual harassment allegations pertaining to his 2016 campaign. Sanders added that some individuals working for his previous campaign shouldn’t have been hired.
Sanders has said he was unaware of the allegations at the time. He previously apologized to female staffers on his 2016 presidential campaign who allege that they experienced sexual harassment, acknowledging that the campaign’s procedures for addressing such issues were “clearly inadequate.”
“This has been an issue that has upset me,” he said. “We’re going to rectify it in this campaign.”
— 🌹Brolicious Witch (@LifeforceVibes) February 20, 2019
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) February 19, 2019
Now that Bernie Sanders is officially in the 2020 presidential race, it’s time to face the obvious truth: not only can he beat Donald Trump, he is also a better candidate to do so than any of the other current Democratic contenders.
At a critical moment when the left needs to unify in order to end Trump’s reign of cruelty and ineptitude, Sanders is the person for the job. Nobody else comes close.
For the last two years, Sanders has been setting the Democratic party policy agenda. His 2016 candidacy entirely shifted the political landscape, to the point where the majority of Democrats now view Democratic socialism favorably. Medicare for All and universal free college are so popular that they have almost become litmus tests for prospective candidates. In polls, Sanders is well ahead of the other currently declared candidates, and at this point he should be treated as the presumptive frontrunner.
Ironically given his age, Sanders has been embraced by millennials – even millennial women preferred Sanders over Clinton. The face of the young left, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is a veteran of the first Sanders campaign. It makes sense. Young people have a sense of urgency about the future: we don’t want to live in a “neo-feudal” world in which corporations tell cities what to do, nor do we want to live on a ruined planet. We want our children and grandchildren never to have to worry about being unable to afford medical care. We want their public schools to be well-funded and their cities to be above water. We also want to be able to afford to have children in the first place.
The reasons that people on the left should support Sanders are obvious. Since his earliest days getting arrested for protesting segregation, Sanders has shown a firm commitment to advancing a progressive agenda. He’s someone we can trust: he has been “on message” for four decades, sounding pretty much the same over decades of speeches. He’s not someone whose ideals seem to have emerged conveniently just in time for their presidential campaign.
Sanders has an unusual advantage against Trump: he’s capable of effectively countering the type of nationalist populism that elevated Trump to office, by offering a more hopeful and heartfelt appeal to popular instincts. He is capable of going to working-class communities and speaking to people without seeming patronizing or insincere. He does particularly well in the midwest, the exact areas that were so critical to Trump’s victory. His message speaks not only to rural white people, but to the black residents of Milwaukee who saw little progress under years of centrist Democratic governance.
Sanders is the perfect weapon against Trump’s plutocratic “populism”. He has experience, skill and principles. People like him and trust him, even when they don’t completely share his politics.
What’s more, this moment in history calls for radicalism – issues like climate change, runaway corporate power, racial inequity cannot be solved by someone with only a tepid commitment to political change. This is Bernie’s time, and both progressives and moderates alike should rally behind his candidacy.
Join me in volunteering to help @BernieSanders secure the democratic nomination & become president. You don’t have to give $, sweat is worth more. You’ll have fun winning #MedicareForAll & stopping capitalist wars. Sign up: https://t.co/HDhd5UZwQQ
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) February 19, 2019