Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders open to presidential run

November 18, 2013

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he doesn't want to run for president, but will consider it if the race is without a strong liberal voice.

In an interview with the Burlington Free Press, Sanders said he would entertain the idea of running if there's no viable option speaking to the issues he cares about.

From the Free Press:

“That is honestly not me,” he continued. “Anyone who really, really wants to be president is slightly crazy because this is an unbelievably difficult job given the crises that this country faces today.”

Still, Sanders says he is willing to consider making a run if no one else with progressive views similar to his ends up taking the plunge.

It is essential, he said, to have someone in the 2016 presidential campaign who is willing to take on Wall Street, address the “collapse” of the middle class, tackle the spread of poverty and fiercely oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Also, addressing global warming needs to be a top priority, not an afterthought, Sanders said.

“Under normal times, it’s fine, you have a moderate Democrat running, a moderate Republican running,” Sanders said. “These are not normal times. The United States right now is in the middle of a severe crisis and you have to call it what it is.”

Were Sanders to run as an independent, it would certainly be cause for concern among Democrats. The self-described democratic socialist, who caucuses with Senate Democrats, doesn't have a huge nationwide following but could pull real votes from the political left if there is unhappiness with the Democratic nominee.

Sanders, notably, has been critical of the Clintons for coming from an elite class and for being moderate Democrats.

"Well, Clinton was and is a very smart guy, but he is the guy who signed NAFTA. I like Bill Clinton, I like Hillary Clinton, but they live in a world surrounded by a lot of money," Sanders told Playboy last month. "It’s not an accident that Clinton is doing a fantastic job with his foundation. Where do you think that money is coming from? The point being that Clinton was a moderate Democrat who was heavily influenced by Wall Street and big-money interests, and Obama is governing in that same way."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · November 18, 2013