Nine months and three days ago, Bernie Sanders officially announced that he was running for president. He didn't do it in Iowa. Or New Hampshire. Or even in his home state of Vermont. Instead, he put out a statement and then headed out to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol -- an area designated for press conferences on mostly-mundane matters like the introduction of pieces of legislation.
The "announcement" lasted 10 minutes. Half of that time was filled by reporters asking questions. He said right at the start that he had to do something else soon so the whole announcement wouldn't last long. When the camera panned back from the podium where Sanders is speaking, there appear to be two dozen or so reporters, cameramen and photographers in attendance. (Shout out to ABC's Jon Karl -- right in front!)
Here's how the New York Times described the moment:
Avoiding the fanfare that several Republicans have chosen so far when announcing their candidacies, Mr. Sanders issued a statement to supporters that laid out his goals for reducing income inequality, addressing climate change and scaling back the influence of money in politics.
To go from that decidedly low-key announcement to where Sanders is today on Iowa caucus day -- in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton in the Hawkeye State and way in front of her in New Hampshire's Feb. 8 primary -- is absolutely stunning. And a testament to how politics can -- still -- surprise and amaze.
It's worth watching the entirety of Sanders's announcement. (It's only 10 minutes long!) What struck me is that Sanders is, generally, giving the same speech today in Iowa that he delivered in late April in Washington. Economic inequality. Campaign finance reform. Wage stagnation.
Then there's this riff, which may have particular resonance as the race between Sanders and Clinton wears on: "I have never run a negative ad in my life. I hate and detest these 30-second negative ads. What elections are about are serious debates over serious issues. This is not the Red Sox versus the Yankees."