Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders confirmed to VPR on Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
In an 11-minute video posted to YouTube, Sanders “called on Americans from all over the nation to join me in building a massive grassroots movement to win the Democratic primary, defeat Donald Trump, and enact an agenda that serves all people, not just the wealthy few.”
He told VPR’s Bob Kinzel, “I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first.” VPR was first to confirm this news Tuesday.
Sanders is describing his new White House bid as a “continuation of what we did in 2016.” He notes that policies he advocated for in 2016 are now embraced by the Democratic Party.
Sanders says, “You know what’s happened in over three years? All of these ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream.”
Sanders was asked Tuesday on CBS whether he believes the Democratic Party has come his way. He says, “I don’t want to say that. Most people would say that.”
The 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist lost to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary in 2016.
The question now for Sanders is whether he can stand out in a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates who also embrace many of his policy ideas and are newer to the national political stage. That’s far different from 2016, when he was Clinton’s lone progressive adversary.
Still, there is no question that Sanders will be a formidable contender for the Democratic nomination. He won more than 13 million votes in 2016 and dozens of primaries and caucuses. He opens his campaign with a nationwide organization and a proven small-dollar fundraising effort.
“We’re gonna win,” Sanders told CBS.
He said he was going to launch “what I think is unprecedented in modern American history”: a grassroots movement “to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country.”
The crowded field includes a number of other candidates who will likely make strong appeals to the Democratic base including Harris and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The field could also grow, with a number of high-profile Democrats still considering presidential bids, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
While Sanders had been working to lay the groundwork for a second campaign for months, it was unclear whether he will be able to expand his appeal beyond his largely white base of supporters. In 2016, Sanders notably struggled to garner support from black voters, an issue that could become particularly pervasive during a primary race that could include several non-white candidates.
Sanders also faces different pressures in the #MeToo era. Some of his male staffers and supporters in 2016 were described as “Bernie bros” for their treatment of women.
In the run-up to Sanders’ 2020 announcement, persistent allegations emerged of sexual harassment of women by male staffers during his 2016 campaign. Politico and The New York Times reported several allegations of unwanted sexual advances and pay inequity.
In an interview with CNN after the initial allegations surfaced, Sanders apologized but also noted he was “a little busy running around the country trying to make the case.”
As additional allegations emerged, he offered a more unequivocal apology.
“What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign — or any campaign — should be about,” Sanders said Jan. 10 on Capitol Hill. “Every woman in this country who goes to work today or tomorrow has the right to make sure that she is working in an environment which is free of harassment, which is safe and is comfortable, and I will do my best to make that happen.”