Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders is readying a potential 2016 presidential primary challenge to Hillary Clinton, claiming that the “same old same old ... Clinton type of politics” won't solve the problems of the nation.
“I am prepared to run for president of the United States. I don't believe that I am the only person out there who can fight this fight, but I am certainly prepared to look seriously at that race,” he told The Nation's John Nichols.
Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has toyed with a presidential bid before, but this is the furthest he’s gone in announcing his bid. While he hasn’t begun fundraising, Sanders said he is discussing a run with key advisors.
“If the question is, am I actively right now organizing and raising money and so forth for a campaign for president, I am not doing that. On the other hand, am I talking to people around the country? Yes, I am,” said Sanders. “Will I be doing some traveling around the country? Yes, I will be. But I think it’s premature to be talking about [the specifics of] a campaign when we still have a 2014 congressional race in front of us.”
Progressives have been eager for somebody to challenge Clinton, seen as unwilling to call for big liberal programs.
Sanders, 72, seemed to agree in his Nation interview.
“Look, I am not here to be attacking Hillary Clinton,” he said. “But I think, sad to say, that the Clinton type of politics is not the politics certainly that I’m talking about. We are living in the moment in American history where the problems facing the country, even if you do not include climate change, are more severe than at any time since the Great Depression. And if you throw in climate change, they are more severe.
“So the same old same old [Clinton administration Secretary of the Treasury] Robert Rubin type of economics, or centrist politics, or continued dependence on big money, or unfettered free-trade, that is not what this country needs ideologically. That is not the type of policy that we need. And it is certainly not going to be the politics that galvanizes the tens of millions of people today who are thoroughly alienated and disgusted with the status quo. People are hurting, and it is important for leadership now to explain to them why they are hurting and how we can grow the middle class and reverse the economic decline of so many people. And I don’t think that is the politics of Senator Clinton or the Democratic establishment.”
Sanders said that the party has to offer an alternative view and even hinted at a third-party run.
“My experience and my political instinct tells me that a lot of the discussions about 2016 are minimizing the profound disgust that people are having now with the status quo — and they’re desperate for a message that addresses that disgust. If I run, I’m not going to be raising hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. I think I have the capability of raising a lot of money and that’s important, but that at the end of the day is not going to be what’s most important. What’s most important is this idea of a political revolution — rallying the working families of this country around a vision that speaks to their needs. People need to understand that, if we are prepared to stand up to Wall Street and the big-money interests, we can create a nation that works for all Americans, and not just the handful of billionaires.”Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.