The Definitive H&H Bernie Sanders Scouting Report

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders on the Issues.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Sen. What he’s got: Disciplined delivery of a principled populist economic message; ability to garner ample media coverage; built-in support in Iowa and New Hampshire among progressives; no fear whatsoever of taking on the Clinton machine.So daunting is her lead that potential big-name adversaries – most notably vice-president Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren – have signalled they will remain on the sidelines.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a registered independent and self-described socialist who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, has made a name for himself in Congress attacking the financial industry and “the billionaire class.” Though he is considered unlikely to mount a serious challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton, his positions on major issues could help push her to address the concerns of more left-leaning voters. What he lacks: Ease in talking about himself or his agenda in a warm or accessible way; a clear and compelling explanation as to why an avowed socialist is the right man to lead America in the 21st Century; national security credentials; a vision of the future as optimistic as the trenchancy of his critique of the status quo. Fundraising mojo: Could catch fire as an online raiser if he takes on Clinton effectively; has to decide what to do about super-PACs and the progressive millionaires who might want to back him.

Here’s what you need to know about Bernie Sanders, the 73-year-old Senator from Vermont who will today announce he is running for president: His supporters when he ran for mayor of Burlington, Vermont called themselves Sanderistas (after the Sandinista revolutionaries in Nicaragua), and he has a portrait of Eugene Debs, the union leader who ran five times for the US presidency as a Socialist, on the wall of his Senate office. “What it means is that we have a lot to learn from democratic socialist governments that have existed in counties like Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway” he said, “where all people have healthcare as a right, where higher education is free, where they don’t have the massive type of income and wealth inequality that we have in the United States of America.” Ben Cohen (R) and Jerry Greenfield at their first store in Burlington, Vermont in 1980, the year before Sanders was elected mayor. Photo: the Boston Globe/Getty images No word on whether Ben and Jerry would go so far as to name an ice cream flavour after Mr Sanders, as they have done for satirist Stephen Colbert and the band Phish among others. “I stood up, said a few words. Sanders starts with the support of some of the most liberal activists in the Democratic Party, the sort of progressives who favored Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio in his quixotic presidential bids. He says the fight against the Islamic State should be undertaken by countries like Saudi Arabia, which borders Iraq and, he argues, has the financial and military resources to fight the extremist group. He’s the longest-serving Independent in Congressional history, and has accused both major parties of being the pawns of Wall St and not offering real change.

Perceived electability as Democratic nominee: Must overcome pervasive view among party elites that he would end up being buried in a McGovernesque landslide. Mr Sanders has said that Hillary Clinton is “not one of the more active members” in the longed-for progressive revolution, a revolution he believes America sorely needs. Sanders will need to expand his reach beyond a heavily white, college-town demographic to other elements of the Democratic coalition, notably African-Americans. National security credentials: Knowledgeable about foreign affairs, with strong views about the proper balance between national security and civil liberties. An independent, he caucuses with Senate Democrats and is likely to attract some interest from voters who have unsuccessfully sought to draft Massachusetts Sen.

Social media/online chops: Twitter following of around 290,000, not at Hillary Clinton’s level, but more robust than Martin O’Malley’s or Jim Webb’s (7.4K). Communicates primarily about budget priorities, income inequality and how the “greed” of the billionaire class “is destroying the middle class.” Test will be if he can leverage the platform for voter mobilization and fundraising. He supports stringent measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including tough standards for new vehicles, as well as some more politically unorthodox ideas, like providing money to study carbon sequestration, or storing carbon dioxide, to delay global warming. But he rejected the idea that his appeal is limited to voters on the left, boldly predicting that his message would appeal to independents and Republicans.

The Big Mo: An early announcement should keep months of forward motion going; the question is what (if anything) he can do for a second act that might sustain it. Sanders could find similar support in New Hampshire, particularly along the western spine of the state, home to many of the state’s most liberal voters. Best moment of the 2016 cycle so far: Ascension to ranking Democratic member status on the Senate Budget Committee, giving him a bigger megaphone than ever on spending and domestic policy.

Sanders strongly supports same-sex marriage. “It’s time for the Supreme Court to catch up to the American people and legalize gay marriage,” he said this week. Sanders fails to win much more than 10 percent of support from the caucusgoers and voters in those first two states, whose electorates are overwhelmingly white, he will have a hard time remaining viable when the race turns to South Carolina, where blacks can make up more than half of the primary electorate.

He said he has known the former first lady, senator from New York and secretary of state for more than two decades. “I respect her and like her,” he said. He noted he has “never run a negative ad in my life,” but still drew a distinction with Clinton, promising to talk “very strongly about the need not to get involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.” Clinton is hosting a series of fundraisers this week, starting what could be an effort that raises more than $1 billion.

But he has also called for reining in the guest-worker program that provides many businesses with low-wage immigrant labor, saying it fuels youth unemployment. Sanders said he will make money and politics a central theme of his campaign, including a call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which he blames for unleashing a torrent of money from wealthy donors into politics. “What you’re looking at here is a real disgrace,” he said. “It is an undermining of American democracy. And he would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25, although in early April he called a $15 minimum wage “reasonable.” He has proposed breaking up the nation’s largest banks, saying the six biggest ones wield too much control over the economy.

Obama has championed. “Are you on the side of working people who would suffer as a result of this disastrous trade agreement, and seeing their jobs go to China or Mexico?” Mr. Sanders’s fiery populism, that old-time religion, will appeal to many liberals at a moment when the left is demanding action on issues of economic fairness, and class mobility has become a defining issue in both parties.

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