Bernie Sanders Planning An Aggressive 2020 Campaign, Reports Say
Bernie Sanders has not officially said that he's running for President, but he's reportedly planning a much more aggressive campaign than what we saw in 2016 if he does.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders hasn’t officially said that he will be running for President again, but it’s sure sounding like he will:
An insurgent underdog no more, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is laying the groundwork to launch a bigger presidential campaign than his first, as advisers predict he would open the 2020 Democratic presidential primary season as a political powerhouse.
A final decision has not been made, but those closest to the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist suggest that neither age nor interest from a glut of progressive presidential prospects would dissuade him from undertaking a second shot at the presidency. And as Sanders’ brain trust gathered for a retreat in Vermont over the weekend, some spoke openly about a 2020 White House bid as if it was almost a foregone conclusion.
“This time, he starts off as a front-runner, or one of the front-runners,” Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver told The Associated Press, highlighting the senator’s proven ability to generate massive fundraising through small-dollar donations and his ready-made network of staff and volunteers.
Weaver added: “It’ll be a much bigger campaign if he runs again, in terms of the size of the operation.”
Amid the enthusiasm — and there was plenty in Burlington as the Sanders Institute convened his celebrity supporters, former campaign staff and progressive policy leaders — there were also signs of cracks in Sanders’ political base. His loyalists are sizing up a prospective 2020 Democratic field likely to feature a collection of ambitious liberal leaders — and not the establishment-minded Hillary Clinton.
Instead, a new generation of outspoken Democrats such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris are expected to seek the Democratic nomination. All three have embraced Sanders’ call for “Medicare for All” and a $15 minimum wage, among other policy priorities he helped bring into the Democratic mainstream in the Trump era.
Acknowledging the stark differences between the 2016 and 2020 fields, Hollywood star Danny Glover, who campaigned alongside Sanders in 2016, would not commit to a second Sanders’ candidacy when asked this weekend.
“I don’t know what 2020 looks like right now,” Glover said before taking a front-row seat for Sanders’ opening remarks. “I’m going to support who I feel to be the most progressive choice.”
One of Sanders’ chief supporters from neighboring New Hampshire, former state senate majority leader Burt Cohen, acknowledged that some people worry Sanders is too old for a second run, although that’s not a major concern of his. Like Glover, he’s not sure if he’ll join Sanders a second time.
“There are other people picking up the flag and holding it high, and you know, it could be Bernie, but I think there are other people as well,” said Cohen, who did not attend the Vermont summit. “It’s not ‘Bernie or bust.’ That’s certainly not the case.”
Another high-profile Sanders supporter who was in attendance, Cornel West, described the Vermont senator as “the most consistently progressive one out there,” suggesting that some would-be 2020 candidates have adopted Sanders’ words, but maintained ties to Wall Street and “militarism.”
Still, West conceded that none of likely 2020 candidates “have as much baggage” as Clinton did.
The fact that Sanders is considering a second run at the White House is hardly surprising, of course. In many respects, he hasn’t really scaled back his national presence in the media and on the campaign trail from what it was during the 2016 campaign. This year, of course, he has concentrated on traveling to states where candidates that support his agenda and the so-called “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party notwithstanding the fact that he is not officially a member of the Democratic Party and has, as he has done in the past, turned down the nomination of the Vermont Democratic Party and run solely as a so-called independent even though his voting record is as much in line with the Senate Democratic Caucus as the most loyal member of that party. Throughout all of these visits, though, it has been clear that Sanders has been trying to keep himself in the national conversation in the Democratic Party as he ponders whether or not he will actually run in 2020, when he would be 79 years old and 83 years old at the end of a hypothetical first term in office in the event he actually won the election. Sanders, of course, isn’t the only potential Democratic candidate for President running for re-election who is leaving the door open to the idea of running. One month ago, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said she would weigh her options regarding a 2020 bid after the 2018 election, which she will win easily over her Republican opponent.
As with Warren, 2020 is Sanders’ best and last shot at becoming President. He is, as I noted above 77 years old and would be 79 when running for President, 83 at the end of a hypothetical first term, and 87 at the end of a second term. He is older than any of the other potential candidates, including Warren and former Vice-President Joe Biden. If he does want to run, either for a realistic shot at the nomination or for the purpose of advancing his agenda, then this would be his last hurrah. At the same time, though, he and Warren would obviously be competing for the same cohort of voters in the so-called “progressive” wing of the party. Additionally, the race could get more complicated for Democrats if other Democrats that appeal to the same wing of the party get in the race.
In addition to Sander and Warren, other names that have been mentioned over the past several weeks include Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, and Kamala Harris, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Julian Castro,Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, and as I noted earlier today, former Vice-President Joe Biden. Other names that have been mentioned as potential 2020 candidates include New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, billionaire Democratic donor Tom Stever, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. In other words, Democrats are potentially looking at a very crowded field in 2020. While some of these candidates will be taken more seriously than other, it’s also no doubt entered the mind of Sanders and those around him that the same excitement that fueled his candidacy in 2016 could end up transfering itself to another candidate or candidates and that it will be hard for them to capture lightning in a bottle a second time around.