Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is now part of the presidential field — in trademark Bernie fashion.
Sanders eschewed the campaign pep rally and instead opted for a podium in the “swamp” area of the Senate lawn. He told reporters that he needed to make it snappy because he needed to get back to work.
His campaign website fine print says “Paid for by Bernie 2016 (not the billionaires).”
“Let me say this, and I say this to you honestly: One of the hesitancies I had about deciding whether to run or not is obviously dealing with money. I’m not going to get money from the Koch brothers, and I’m not going to get money from billionaires. I’m going to have to raise my campaign contributions through BernieSanders.com, small campaign contributions. That’s how I’m going to do it,” he said.
Sanders insisted that his campaign is not just a statement-making enterprise: “We’re in this race to win,” he declared.
He still does “seriously wonder — and it’s not just Bernie Sanders — whether any candidate who is not a billionaire or who is not beholden to the billionaire class, [is] able to run successful campaigns.”
“If that is the case, I want you all to recognize what a sad state of affairs that is for the American democracy.”
He’s looking forward to debating Hillary Clinton about, among other things, her vote for the Iraq war in the Senate. “We don’t know what Hillary’s stances are on all the issues,” he needled.
Sanders also highlighted other ways in which his campaign may be refreshing to voters. First, he hates 30-second “ugly” campaign TV ads. Doesn’t want to go there.
“This is not the Red Sox versus the Yankees,” Sanders said. “I ask the media’s help on this — allow us to discuss the important issues facing the American people, and let’s not get hung up on political gossip or all the other soap opera aspects of modern campaigns.”
Fox carried Sanders’ presser live, while CNN and MSNBC stuck with their Baltimore coverage.
The Democratic National Committee sent out an email to supporters that said “Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is in… Hillary Clinton is in, too.”
Sanders will remain an Independent in the Senate, but run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
“Can any candidate in this country who represents working families, who is not a billionaire, who is not beholden to big money, can that candidate in this day and age win an election? It’s not just Bernie Sanders. I don’t know the answer,” he told CNN. “From what I’m understanding, we’re raising hundreds of thousands of dollars today. Clearly we’re not going to be having the billions of dollars that our opponents will have. But I do believe, and I would not have entered this race if, A, I didn’t think we could win, and, B, if we could not raise enough money to run a strong campaign.”
“…People did not die to create a democratic system where it’s a war between billionaires. I will get the vast amount of money from small, individual contributions. That’s how I’ve always done it. That’s how I’ll do it this time.”
Mother Jones noted that Sanders has already taken more questions from the press than Clinton has.