He doesn’t have the youth of Martin O’Malley or the buzz of Elizabeth Warren. But U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) believes he can beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a challenge for the Democratic nomination for president.
Sanders told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos in an interview that he is still weighing a run. But when Ramos asked him if thought he could beat Clinton in a challenge from the left, Sanders pointed to increasing “frustration” from working families about rising levels of income inequality in the U.S.
“I think there is a lot of frustration and anger among working families who, in many cases, are working longer hours for low wages,” Sanders told Ramos.
“Yet what they’re seeing is while their standard of living goes down, almost all new income goes to the top 1 percent. And we have this obscene level of income and wealth inequality. So the anger and frustration is out there. Yes, I do think that if I ran, I could win.”
Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist,” has flashed signals he will run for president. He has traveled in the past few months to early-caucus and primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire multiple times, and he has also swung through California, Texas, Illinois, and Nevada. However, he has sounded more reluctant about the possibility in recent weeks.
If he does run, he would have to decide whether to mount a direct challenge to Clinton as a Democrat or to campaign as an Independent. Sanders caucuses with Democrats in the Senate and is one of the most liberal members of the chamber. He told Ramos he hasn’t determined which ticket he’d run on.
“Well, that’s another question that has to be answered. I am an Independent but I caucus with the Democrats,” Sanders said.
“There are advantages and disadvantages from either approach. What I would be doing is waging a campaign which speaks to the needs of working families and lower-income people and taking on the big money interests, which today have so much power and economics of America.”
The main questions about a possible Sanders candidacy revolve around whether he’d be able to generate enough buzz to raise the type of money that would be necessary to compete with Clinton. According to a poll last month conducted by Public Policy Polling, Sanders came in fourth place among potential Democratic candidates. He earned 5 percent of Democratic votes, trailing Clinton (54 percent), Vice President Joe Biden (16 percent), and Warren (12 percent).
But Sanders told Ramos that if he does run, he’s confident that the American people would want a candidate who wasn’t afraid to take on “big-money interests.”
“The anger and frustration is at a situation where the middle class is declining, working people are working longer hours for low wages, while the very wealthiest people of this country are becoming much richer,” Sanders said. “And I think the American people wanna see voices out there, standing with working families, who are prepared to take on the big money interests.”