September 14

In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was noncommittal about almost everything. He might run for president, he might not. He might run as a Democrat, he might not. But if he were to run for president, his opponent would be clear: America’s wealthy, whether they’re spending that money on themselves or on political campaigns.

If Sanders does run, of course, he won’t win. A poll from CNN this month put his support at 5 percent, less than it is for Hillary Clinton (by far), Vice President Biden (by a large amount) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). He’s one of the few elected officials in American history to embrace the word “socialist” to describe his policies. But even though his campaign is clearly an attempt to draw attention to the issues he cares about — wealth inequality, the Citizens United decision — he wasn’t willing to strongly criticize either Clinton or President Obama in doing so.

“The truth is, there is profound anger at both political parties,” Sanders told Todd. “More and more people are becoming independent,” but independent candidates don’t have any party infrastructure (by definition), so if he were to run, it would be as a Democrat. But that’s not because of who is already (almost certainly) running on that ticket. “The issue is not Hillary,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton. The question is: At a time when so many people have seen a decline in their standard of living, when the wealthiest and largest corporations are doing phenomenally well, the American people want change. … Let Hillary speak for herself. I know where I’m coming from.”

On Obama, Sanders said that “the level of obstructionism” the president has faced “is unprecedented in American history” but that Obama has handled the opposition badly. “We need millions of people to come to Washington and demand” that we raise the minimum wage, Sanders said. “I believe he has been right on some of his ideas,” the senator added, but “he has not tapped the anger and the frustration that the American people feel on many, many issues.” The goal of a Sanders for President campaign, clearly, would be to do that.

“I think Citizens United will go down in history as one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever. I think it is opening up the road to oligarchy in the United States of America,” Sanders said of the role of money in politics. He called out the billionaire Koch brothers specifically. “Nobody in America wants them besides the billionaire class,” Sanders said. “Anybody who speaks to the needs of the working class and the middle class of this country and shows the courage to take on the billionaire class — I think that candidate will do pretty well.”

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