Bernie Sanders Ends Presidential Bid, Paving Way For Trump-Biden Showdown

Senator Bernie Sanders described rival Joe Biden as a “very decent man” who he will work with to move progressive ideas forward.  File Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

 

Leftist US Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign Wednesday, clearing the way for rival Joe Biden to secure the Democratic nomination and challenge Donald Trump in November.

The feisty 78-year-old democratic socialist shook up the 2020 race with his relentless pursuit of “economic justice” for all Americans and a demand for universal health care.

But he acknowledged his campaign had fallen short, as party voters determined Biden would be a stronger candidate to go up against Trump in the general election.

“I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful,” Sanders told supporters in a livestream from his home, where he has remained for the bulk of the coronavirus pandemic that put all in-person campaigning on hold.

“Vice president Biden will be the nominee,” he said, adding that he congratulated his rival, a “very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward.”

Sanders, who challenged Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination in 2016, mounted a formidable 2020 bid.

He raised astonishing amounts of money from record numbers of donors, becoming the frontrunner early this year and earning the most votes in the first three state-wide contests.

But he was eclipsed by a surging Biden, who won the vast majority of remaining primaries and now holds a commanding lead in the all-important race for delegates who choose the nominee.

Sanders brought his liberal ideological platform — including a call for universal health care and a $15 hourly minimum wage — into the mainstream.

“Together we have transformed American consciousness as to what kind of nation we can become, and have taken this country a major step forward in the never-ending struggle for economic justice,” Sanders said.

Several lawmakers have come out in support of his policies, and Biden has shifted leftward to incorporate some Sanders positions, although he does not support Sanders’s Medicare for All plan.

Biden seeks party unity

Biden immediately hailed Sanders as “a good man, a great leader, and one of the most powerful voices for change in our country.”

He urged Sanders supporters to join his campaign, which already has the backing of nearly all other ex-rivals in the race including senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country,” Biden said in a statement to Sanders and his supporters.

“I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.”

Trump made his own pitch for Sanders’s supporters, though in a more abrasive tone.

“Bernie Sanders is OUT!” the president posted on Twitter, saying Senator Elizabeth Warren helped split the liberal vote by remaining in the race during key contests, thereby helping Biden, the Democratic establishment’s clear choice for the nomination.

“The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!” Trump said.

Trump won the 2016 election with help from disaffected working-class voters who believed they were being left behind by politicians in Washington.

Sanders also appeals to those voters.

On Wednesday he warned the coronavirus was causing an “economic meltdown” that has resulted in millions of lost jobs and a scramble for many to regain access to health insurance.

Sanders said he would not remain in an unwinnable campaign that would “interfere” with important anti-coronavirus work while the country is gripped by crisis.

Biden said his focus is on ending the pandemic, but promised to continue campaigning despite the logistical challenges.

“First things first: how we’re going to keep America safe and get this crisis under control and provide economic assistance,” he said during a virtual fundraiser.

And he repeated a pledge to choose a woman as his running mate — a topic on which he said he has asked former president Barack Obama for advice.

“I’m going to need a woman vice president who has the capacity, has strengths where I have weaknesses,” Biden said.

Sanders stressed he would remain on the ballot and seek to gain as many delegates as possible in order to “exert significant influence” over the direction of the party.

AFP

Biden To Sanders: ‘Together We Will Beat Donald Trump’

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2020, Democratic presidential hopefuls Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and former Vice President Joe Biden gesture as they participate in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina. PHOTO: JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden reached out to rival Bernie Sanders on Tuesday to say they could work together to beat President Donald Trump in the November election.

Speaking after sweeping the first three of Tuesday’s six Democratic primaries, Biden said the two share a “common goal.”

“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion,” he said.

“Together we’ll defeat Donald Trump… We’ll bring this nation together.”

“Tonight we’re a step closer to restoring decency, dignity, and honor to the White House. That’s our ultimate goal,” Biden said to cheering supporters in Philadelphia, his wife Jill Biden at his side.

Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 10, 2020. PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Vote projections indicated that the former vice president handily captured the Democratic primary in Michigan, the night’s largest prize on the path to the Democratic presidential nomination.

In a state that Sanders won four years ago against Hillary Clinton, early tallies suggested that political moderate Biden defeated the leftist senator by a margin of more than 10 percentage points.

It was the former vice president’s third projected victory of the night, after Mississippi and Missouri, significantly widening his lead in the battle for delegates to the July Democratic National Convention that will decide the party’s challenger to Trump.

“Thank you, Michigan!” Biden tweeted.

Before Tuesday Biden had racked up 670 delegates in earlier primaries, compared to Sanders’s 574.

With more than half the total 57 primary contests still in front of them, a candidate needs to top 1,991 delegates to capture the nomination.

Sanders’s staff pointed out that neither candidate was even halfway to that goal and vowed to fight on.

“More than half of the states in the country have not even voted yet. Nah, it’s not over,” said Nina Turner, the national co-chair of the Sanders campaign.

AFP

Sanders Cancels Campaign Rally Over Coronavirus Fears

FILES) In this file photo taken on March 9, 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a “Bernie 2020” rally at the Stifel Theater in downtown St.Louis, Missouri.  AFP

 

US Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders canceled a major rally in Cleveland Ohio Tuesday, the first major campaign event to be called off over fears of the spreading coronavirus.

“Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonight’s rally in Cleveland,” the campaign said in a statement.

“We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak.”

AFP

Biden and Sanders Win Key Endorsements As Next Voting Round Nears

 

Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders secured crucial endorsements Sunday from prominent black supporters just days ahead of the first round of voting to pit them in a head-to-head contest.

Senator Kamala Harris, a former Democratic candidate herself, endorsed Biden, while Sanders won the backing of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson as the rival candidates competed for African American support — a key demographic in the fight for the party’s nomination.

Voters in six states go to the polls Tuesday, a week after the “Super Tuesday” elections dramatically reversed the two men’s fortunes, snatching the frontrunner’s title from Sanders and revitalizing Biden, who now holds a lead in delegates to the nominating convention.

Biden did well on Super Tuesday in Southern states with large black populations, states similar to Mississippi, which votes Tuesday. And in Missouri, a Midwestern state also voting Tuesday, one recent poll gives him a 22-point lead.

That makes Michigan, the day’s biggest prize, an almost must-win for Sanders. A survey in that north-central state last week gave Biden a six-point advantage.

“Joe has been there for Michigan when our back was against the wall,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer told AFP Sunday, during an appearance at a majority black church in Detroit.

Michigan’s critically suffering auto industry received a major boost in 2008 from a massive intervention under the administration of Barack Obama and Biden.

But Whitmer predicted a close race on Tuesday; Sanders has a large organization in Michigan with considerable union support.

Also voting Tuesday are Idaho, North Dakota and Washington state.

Sanders focuses on Michigan

Sanders, desperate to kickstart his campaign after losing 10 of the 14 Super Tuesday states, has canceled plans to speak in Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois in order to focus on Michigan.

Jackson endorsed Sanders at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, repaying the self-described democratic socialist for having supported his 1988 bid for the White House.

“I stand with Bernie Sanders today because he stood with me,” Jackson said. “I stand with him because he stands with you.”

“Sanders has a better chance at beating Trump than Biden does,” Sara Long, 25, told AFP as she stood in line for the rally.

“I think that a lot of his views are more progressive, and they’re what this generation is looking for,” she said.

Sanders touted Jackson’s endorsement on Sunday television talk shows, calling him “one of the great civil rights leaders in the modern history of this country.”

“He changed American politics with the concept of the Rainbow Coalition — getting the blacks and whites and Latinos together in ’84 and ’88,” Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.” “So we’re proud.”

Sanders appeared on four Sunday talk shows; Biden on none.

Biden’s Super Tuesday surge brought an influx of donations — $22 million in the past few days, his campaign said in a statement Sunday.

It said $12 million would be spent on hiring new staff and launching a major media campaign in battleground states.

Harris said she was backing Biden, a centrist who touts his ability to work with Republicans because she believes he can best unify the country going into the crucial November elections against Donald Trump.

“I am with great enthusiasm going to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States,” she said in a videotaped statement posted on Twitter.

Eight other former Democratic candidates — including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O’Rourke — had earlier endorsed Biden.

He later tweeted his thanks to Harris, saying, “You’ve spent your whole career fighting for folks who’ve been written off and left behind.”

The endorsement was a bit of a reversal; Harris had sharply chastised Biden in a televised debate last June over his warm words for past segregationist senators and his opposition in the 1970s to busing to integrate US schools.

But many African American leaders have since swung behind Biden, helping to resurrect his once flagging campaign.

Blacks’ ‘best chance’

Sanders has had trouble attracting black voters — Biden won more than four black votes in South Carolina for each one favoring Sanders — making the endorsement from Jackson all the more significant.

Jackson questioned whether moderate policies would benefit African Americans.

“A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path,” said Jackson.

“The most progressive social and economic path gives us the best chance to catch up, and Senator Bernie Sanders represents the most progressive path. That’s why I choose to endorse him today.”

Democrats Worry As Sanders Wins In Nevada

FILES) In this file photo taken on February 22, 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gestures as he speaks during a rally at the Abraham Chavez Theater on February 22, 2020 in El Paso, Texas.  Paul Ratje / AFP

 

Bernie Sanders’ landslide victory in Nevada’s Democratic nominating contest has scattered his moderate challengers and injected his White House campaign with a fresh burst of momentum as he drives into the next crucial battlegrounds.

With his strong result Saturday, the Vermont senator demonstrated an ability to broaden a coalition beyond the narrow limits of leftist voters, undercutting the argument from several moderates that he would not be able to bridge the divide between progressives and centrists.

“He showed last night that he can energize our core base,” Howard Dean, a former presidential aspirant himself and former head of the Democratic National Committee, told CNN.

By early Sunday, Sanders was comfortably ahead in Nevada with 60 percent of precincts reporting.

The 78-year-old senator was leading the Democratic pack with 46 percent of the vote, followed far behind by former vice president Joe Biden at 19.6 percent and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, at 15.3 percent.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar trailed at, respectively, 10.1 percent and 4.8 percent.

 ‘Incredibly impressive’ 

Sanders was quick to claim victory, saying his “multi-generational, multi-racial coalition” was “going to sweep this country.”

Dean said the senator’s result in a state far more typical of America’s demographic variety than the two earlier-voting states was “incredibly impressive.”

But he quickly added that a more definitive result will come only after voters in 14 states cast ballots on March 3, or “Super Tuesday.”

Before that comes South Carolina, which votes on February 29.

Biden’s once-strong prospects had faded sharply for weeks, but he said Saturday that he felt “really good” about his second-place showing in Nevada and shouldn’t be counted out.

His team is banking on a strong showing in South Carolina, where Biden has enjoyed support among a majority-black Democratic electorate.

But after Sanders came in virtually tied for first in Iowa and then won last week in New Hampshire, his undeniable victory in Nevada places him squarely in the driver’s seat, at least for now.

He leads national polls by an 11 point margin over Biden and by 13 points over Mike Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who skipped the early voting states to focus on Super Tuesday.

Some Democrats worry 

Sanders’s progressive policies, including universal health care, higher taxes on the wealthy and an increase in the minimum wage, have struck a chord with millions of Americans.

But they have raised alarm among some Democrats that he will make an easy target for President Donald Trump as a radical leftist, and that if he heads the Democratic ticket in November the party could face sweeping losses.

Trump on Saturday issued a sarcastic-sounding congratulations on Twitter to the man he calls “Crazy Bernie.”

Asked if the Democrats’ majority in the House of Representatives might be threatened if Sanders turned out to be Trump’s rival in November, one powerful South Carolina Democrat said that it might.

It “would be a real burden for us in these states or congressional districts that we have to do well in,” said James Clyburn, the House Democratic whip.

“In those districts, it’s going to be tough to hold onto these jobs if you have to make the case for accepting a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist.”

Buttigieg, while congratulating Sanders on his Nevada victory, offered a stern warning against picking someone who he said sees “capitalism as the root of all evil” to go up against the populist president.

Pressure seems certain to grow on some of the lower-polling Democratic moderates to withdraw to allow others to coalesce around a centrist who might fare better against Trump.

Republican campaign advisor Mark McKinnon, speaking on CNN, predicted that the lower polling candidates will be flushed out of the race after Super Tuesday.

But the centrist alternatives face steep challenges, he added: Bloomberg performed notably poorly in Wednesday’s Democratic debate, and “Biden does not have the resources.”

Progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren, speaking late Saturday in Washington state, which votes March 10, vowed to stay in the race despite a third straight mediocre showing.

She renewed her attacks on Bloomberg, accusing him of trying to “buy this election.”

Bloomberg, co-founder of the Bloomberg LP media company, has plowed a record $438 million of personal funds into his campaign.

McKinnon said, meantime, that if Sanders compiled a large enough lead after Super Tuesday it would make it hard for other Democrats to oppose his nomination at the national convention in July, even if he has not won a clear majority of delegates.

“There’s something going on here that defies the conventional wisdom,” he said: a 78-year-old man attracting highly energized young voters.

Sanders, he said, “is creating a passion among voters.”

US Elections: Sanders Wins Nevada To Extend Lead

 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raises his fist as he arrives onstage after winning the Nevada caucuses during a campaign rally at Cowboys Dancehall on February 22, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas.  Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raises his fist as he arrives onstage after winning the Nevada caucuses during a campaign rally at Cowboys Dancehall on February 22, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas. Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Progressive firebrand Bernie Sanders earned a decisive victory Saturday in the Nevada caucuses, solidifying his frontrunner status in the race to choose the Democratic nominee who faces President Donald Trump in November’s election.

His win is a substantial accomplishment in a state seen as an important bellwether because it is the first diverse electorate to weigh in on the 2020 presidential race.

It also shows that Sanders has been able to broaden a coalition beyond the narrow limits of leftist voters, refuting the argument used by several moderates in the race that he would not be able to bridge the divide between progressives and centrists.

By late Saturday Sanders was comfortably ahead with half of all precincts reporting.

The 78-year-old senator from Vermont was leading with about 46 percent, followed by former vice president Joe Biden at 19 percent.

South Bend, Indiana’s former mayor Pete Buttigieg, who scored a shock narrow win in Iowa to start the race nearly three weeks ago, stood in third at 15 percent.

The two female US senators in the running, progressive Elizabeth Warren and pragmatist Amy Klobuchar, were on 10 and four percent respectively.

Sanders was quick to claim victory, saying his “multi-generational, multi-racial coalition” that won Nevada was “going to sweep this country.”

His progressive policies, including universal health care, higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and raising the minimum wage have struck a chord with millions of Americans.

“The American people are sick and tired of a government which is based on greed, corruption, and lies. They want an administration which is based on the principles of justice,” he told a raucous rally, which responded with chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”

Sanders was speaking in El Paso, Texas, one of the 14 states that votes on “Super Tuesday” on March 3.

Buttigieg congratulated Sanders on his Nevada victory. But the moderate, 38-year-old military veteran offered a stern warning against picking a self-described democratic socialist who sees “capitalism as the root of all evil” to go up against the populist Trump.

“Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans,” Buttigieg said.

With Sanders coming in virtually tied for first in Iowa and then winning New Hampshire last week, he is in the driver’s seat as the race turns toward South Carolina and then Super Tuesday.

“Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada,” Trump tweeted, maligning other candidates before adding: “Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!”

With the race soon taking on a national dynamic, several candidates like Klobuchar, Warren or congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will be under pressure to decide whether they fight on or throw in the towel.

‘Coming back’

The centrist Biden, desperate to right a listing ship after miserable showings in the first two states, told supporters he feels “really good” about his Nevada finish and shouldn’t be counted out.

“We’re alive and we’re coming back,” the onetime frontrunner insisted. “We’re going on to South Carolina to win and then we’re going to take this back!”

South Carolina has a majority black Democratic electorate, and Biden leads polling there, riding his popularity among African Americans due in part to his eight years as popular president Barack Obama’s deputy.

“Joe to me is like a thoroughbred — a horse that’s gonna come in and that’s gonna overtake whoever is the favorite,” Air Force retiree Wilbert Wilcox told AFP.

“He has the stamina going for him… I’m looking for him to really surprise some people.”

Sanders leads national polls with an average of 28 percent support.

That is 11 points ahead of Biden and 13 points clear of billionaire media tycoon Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who skipped campaigning in the four early states, including Nevada, in order to focus on Super Tuesday.

Sanders has been largely unchecked by opponents who have focused more on blunting the advance of Bloomberg, who has poured hundreds of millions of dollars of his personal fortune into campaign advertising.

Warren, speaking late Saturday at a large rally in Washington state which votes on March 10, pledged to stay in the fight despite a third straight mediocre showing.

She repeated her attacks on Bloomberg, accusing him of seeking to “buy this election.”

In Nevada, caucuses were held in several of Las Vegas’s world-famous casinos and hotels, as well as dusty desert towns.

Keen to avoid the drawn-out embarrassment of the Iowa caucus, which relied on flawed technology to relay results, Nevada officials pivoted to a low-tech system that involved phoning in results to hotlines and backing them up with photographs of the tabulations.

The process was considerably slower than four years ago, but appeared to be relatively smooth.

 

AFP

Sanders Wins In New Hampshire As Biden Crashes And Burns

Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders arrives to speak at a Primary Night event at the SNHU Field House in Manchester, New Hampshire on February 11, 2020.  AFP

 

Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire’s high-stakes Democratic primary on Tuesday, according to US network projections, leaving rivals including party stalwart Joe Biden in his wake as he staked his claim to challenge President Donald Trump in November.

Sanders, the flag-bearer for the party’s progressive wing, had 26 per cent of votes with most of the count complete in the northeastern state, where he routed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“Let me take this opportunity to thank the people of New Hampshire for a great victory tonight,” Sanders told cheering supporters after NBC and ABC called the result in his favour.

“This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” the senator from neighbouring Vermont added as raised the roof with his rallying cry for fairer taxes and health care reform.

Indiana ex-mayor Pete Buttigieg finished in second place at 24 per cent as he readied for the more difficult battlegrounds ahead.

“Now our campaign moves on to Nevada, to South Carolina, to communities across our country. And we will welcome new allies to our movement at every step,” he said.

Midwestern moderate Amy Klobuchar maintained a late surge to place third on about 20 per cent, while liberal Elizabeth Warren finished in fourth at about nine per cent.

Trump weighed in, tweeting: “Bootedgeedge (Buttigieg) is doing pretty well tonight. Giving Crazy Bernie a run for his money. Very interesting!” Trump tweeted.

After months atop the pack, Biden had already conceded he expected to do badly in New Hampshire, as he did a week earlier in Iowa — and the former vice president’s worst fears were beginning to materialize as he languished in fifth with just over eight per cent.

The performance will be a body blow to the 77-year-old Biden, who has failed to generate the fundraising numbers or the enthusiasm levels of his rivals for the top spot on the Democratic ticket.

White House hopefuls had been seeking clarity in the Granite State after the first-in-the-nation Iowa count devolved into chaos, with Sanders and Buttigieg eventually emerging neck-and-neck.

For tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, that meant facing reality and bowing out after they failed to make an impact on Tuesday.

“You know I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race,” Yang said.

 ‘Not the closing bell’ 

The 78-year-old Sanders went into the race as the newly anointed national frontrunner and was expected to win New Hampshire.

Buttigieg’s camp will be happy with a solid result that could provide voters on the fence with much-needed reassurance after he won narrowly in Iowa.

The Afghanistan veteran is languishing at 10 per cent in the latest national polls and has negligible support among African-Americans in upcoming states with more diverse populations.

Pundits believe this vital constituency will start to take a serious look at Buttigieg, a virtual unknown a year ago, after his impressive top-two finishes in the opening races.

Klobuchar’s popularity in New Hampshire surged after a strong debate on Friday, moving her ahead of Warren, whose performance will do nothing to revitalize a wounded campaign.

Warren admitted to MSNBC the result was a disappointment but insisted: “This is going to be a long primary process.”

“The question for us Democrats is whether it will be a long, bitter rehash of the same old divides in our party, or whether we can find another way,” she said later.

Biden, apparently seeing the writing on the wall, cancelled a primary-night party and was in South Carolina as the results came in.

“We just heard from the first two of 50 states. Two of them. Not all the nation, not half the nation, not a quarter of the nation,” he told supporters.

“Now, where I come from, that’s the opening bell — not the closing bell.”

‘Dramatic shift’ 

The day had begun under a light snowfall. Voters at a Boys and Girls Club in the state capital Concord received paper ballots and used either voting booths curtained by red, white and blue plastic or tabletop voting spots to make their choice.

Mike Schowalter, a 39-year-old conservative, said he voted for Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist who critics complain is proposing a health care overhaul and other sweeping ideas that are too expensive.

“It does seem kind of strange, but I do think a lot of stuff going on in our country right now is a bit broken,” Schowalter told AFP. “I think he’ll get us talking.”

Buoyed by his strong start, Sanders has emerged as the national Democratic frontrunner with 25 per cent support, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that described his surge as a “dramatic shift.”

Biden has skidded from 26 to 17 per cent support since the end of January.

Significantly, the survey also showed billionaire Michael Bloomberg vaulting into third place on 15 per cent — suggesting a possible upset when New York’s former mayor, who is skipping the first four nominating contests, throws himself fully into the race.

Competing for the support defecting from Biden, Bloomberg is focusing on Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states vote — spending a record $260 million of his personal fortune on his campaign.

AFP

Bernie Sanders: From Leftist Fringe To Democratic Mainstream

Presidential Candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire on February 10, 2020. Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

He may be the oldest candidate in the field, but Bernie Sanders is the pick of the Democratic presidential hopefuls among young progressives seduced by fiery anti-establishment rhetoric and vigour belying his 78 years.

The Vermont senator, who hasn’t changed much since his days as a small-town mayor in the 1980s, finds himself catapulted from fringe leftist for much of his career to frontrunner in the race to challenge Donald Trump for the White House.

He is favourite to win the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday after narrowly losing the chaotic first-in-the-nation Iowa vote to fresh-faced challenger Pete Buttigieg.

Victory would put the gruff New York native in good standing to secure the Democratic nomination, although tougher challenges lie ahead as the contest moves to the more diverse electorates of Nevada and South Carolina.

Sanders has struggled to gain acceptance from the Democratic hierarchy — not least because the self-described independent only registered with the party last year.

Written off after defeat against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and dismissed by pundits again in 2020 after a heart attack that paused his campaign, he has re-emerged stronger than ever.

Sanders claimed frontrunner status for the first time with 25 percent support on Monday, reeling in former vice president Joe Biden (17 percent), in a Quinnipiac University national poll.

So what makes the famously irascible senator, a self-described democratic socialist, so popular?

Devotees point, for starters, to his energy. Sanders is a powerful, animated orator and his rallies — attended by thousands — have a rock star feel about them.

With his unruly white hair, he shakes his fist at corporate elites and fires up crowds with talk of “political revolution” and taxing the rich.

Endorsements from rising Democratic star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and rapper Cardi B have helped Sanders maintain an aura of vitality singularly lacking, according to critics, in fellow septuagenarian Biden.

Carpenter and filmmaker 

Sanders has put the fight against income inequality — which he has called the greatest moral, economic and political issue of our times — at the centre of his campaign.

His zeal and steadfast approach have helped pull the Democrats to the left.

Sanders’ calls for universal health care, a $15 minimum wage and free public university education, were once viewed as unrealistic.

But with Trump taking the Republicans further to the right, several of Sanders’ flagship policies are now championed by Democrat opponents, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“We have had more success in ideologically changing the party than I would have dreamed possible. The world has changed,” Sanders told GQ magazine in January 2019, a month before announcing his candidacy.

Sanders, who mounted a bruising challenge to Clinton for the Democratic nomination four years ago, avoids going into great detail about how he will pay for keynote policies such as healthcare for all and free college tuition.

Warren, on the other hand, has at times got too caught up in the minutiae and has struggled to shake off the notion that she is a policy wonk.

Bernard Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of Jewish immigrants from Poland.

He attended Brooklyn College and later the University of Chicago, where he was active in the civil rights movement, attending the 1963 “March on Washington” where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

After graduating, Sanders worked on an Israeli kibbutz and moved to Vermont, where he worked as a carpenter and filmmaker.

In 1981, he was elected mayor of Burlington, a city of 42,000 people where he met the woman who would become his second wife and closest political advisor — Jane O’Meara.

In 1990 he won election as an independent to the US House of Representatives, serving until 2006 when he was elected to the Senate. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2018.

 ‘Bernie Bros’ 

While Sanders’ base appears younger and more diverse than Trump’s, elements have drawn comparisons with the president’s: those that are white and come from blue-collar backgrounds.

Warren and Clinton denounced a toxic streak among Sanders’ more ardent supporters, known as “Bernie Bros,” accused of aggressive and at times sexist online tactics.

Sanders was also forced to deny telling Warren that a woman could never win the White House.

Following his likely success in New Hampshire, Democrats will need to decide where they stand on the broader question of Sanders’ electability.

Some worry that Trump, who routinely mocks Sanders with the nickname “Crazy Bernie,” could successfully portray him as a dangerous communist in an election showdown.

But for supporters, as well as opponents on the Republican side, that outsider quality is exactly why he could appeal to voters.

“Sanders poses the greatest risk because we are still in an anti-establishment era for presidential elections,” summed up the Republican congressman and Trump ally Mark Meadows.

AFP

US Election: Sanders, Buttigieg Face Attack In Democratic Debate

 

Democratic presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participate in the Democratic presidential primary debate in the Sullivan Arena at St. Anselm College on February 07, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. AFP

 

White House hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg — riding neck-and-neck in the polls ahead of the next Democratic primary contest — come under sustained attack on the debate stage from rivals seeking to challenge Donald Trump in November.

Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana who at 38 is a fresh face on the national stage, defended himself against charges of inexperience and, in a dig at Sanders, urged Americans to elevate a nominee who will “leave the politics of the past in the past.”

The 78-year-old leftist Sanders, eyeing the moderate Buttigieg as his possible chief adversary, aimed his own shots at his far younger rival in the Manchester, New Hampshire debate — casting him as the candidate of Wall Street.

“I don’t have 40 billionaires, Pete, contributing to my campaign,” Sanders said.

Buttigieg and Sanders finished atop the pack earlier this week in Iowa’s chaotic caucuses, and both hope to renew the performance Tuesday in New Hampshire, as the Democratic Party seeks to pick a challenger to Trump in November.

But Sanders, a veteran senator calling for “political revolution,” was in the firing line from several rivals, including former vice president and fellow septuagenarian Joe Biden who branded his policies too radical to unite Americans.

The 77-year-old Biden, fighting to keep his White House hopes alive after finishing an unnerving fourth in Iowa, insisted liberal policies like Sanders’s flagship universal health care plan would be too divisive, expensive and difficult to get through Congress.

“How much is it going to cost?” Biden asked about Sanders’s Medicare for All bill which estimates the project would cost tens of trillions of dollars.

“Who do you think is going get that passed” in Congress?

Biden performed more aggressively than in previous showings, seizing a chance to argue that today’s global tensions required an experienced statesman to guide the nation out of a dark period.

Despite the Iowa setback he also made plain he still views himself as best placed to mount a centrist challenge to the Republican Trump, who this week survived an impeachment trial that did little to dent his electoral support.

A national unknown one year ago, Buttigieg has run an ambitious campaign that resonated with voters who appreciate his articulate explanations of policy.

But rivals including Senator Amy Klobuchar argued Buttigieg is an untested novice on the world stage.

“We have a newcomer in the White House, and look where it got us,” she said in a gibe at both Buttigieg and Trump.

Buttigieg draws on his experience as a military veteran to cast himself as a credible commander-in-chief.

And he advanced his central argument for generational change as the best way to take on the nation’s tests.

“The biggest risk we could take at a time like this would be to go up against the fundamentally new challenge by trying to fall back on the familiar,” Buttigieg said.

 ‘Trump’s worst nightmare’ 

Also on stage in New Hampshire were Senator Elizabeth Warren, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire activist Tom Steyer.

Klobuchar, a pragmatist from Minnesota, put in a forceful performance as she voiced her opposition to Sanders and Warren, arguing their liberal plans would only divide voters.

“Truthfully, Donald Trump’s worst nightmare is a candidate that will bring people in from the middle,” she said.

While Biden held his own, he acknowledged he was fighting an uphill battle in the first two voting states.

“I took the hit in Iowa and I’ll probably take it here,” he said, in apparent recognition that Sanders is likely to win New Hampshire, which borders his home state of Vermont.

Democratic tensions have simmered as the party struggles to decide whether to take incremental progressive steps or a more radical turn as proposed by self-declared democratic socialist Sanders.

At one point candidates were asked whether they would be concerned should a democratic socialist win the nomination. Klobuchar and others raised their hands.

As the seven debaters clashed, another candidate loomed in the background.

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg chose to ignore the early nominating contests and has spent heavily on advertising, hoping to make a splash on “Super Tuesday” on March 3, when 14 states vote.

Warren, who calls for an end to the “corruption” of Washington, lashed out against Bloomberg — but also Buttigieg — who has raised large sums from wealthy donors.

“I don’t think anyone ought to be able to buy their way into a nomination or being president,” she said.

“I don’t think any billionaire ought to be able to do it and I don’t think people who suck up to billionaires in order to fund their campaigns ought to be able to do it.”

After New Hampshire, the candidates turn to Nevada on February 22, South Carolina on February 29 and then Super Tuesday.

AFP

US Elections: Buttigieg Leads With Slight Margin In Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks at the New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall at the Bank Of New Hampshire Stage in Concord, New Hampshire on February 5, 2020. Joseph Prezioso / AFP
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks at the New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall at the Bank Of New Hampshire Stage in Concord, New Hampshire on February 5, 2020. Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

Democratic White House candidate Pete Buttigieg held a wafer-thin lead over leftist rival Bernie Sanders early Thursday as more delayed results arrived, after the US election season kicked off with caucuses in Iowa.

With 97 percent of precincts now reporting after Monday’s selection process in the Midwestern state, the moderate 38-year-old Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was leading with 26.2 percent.

Senator Sanders, who is more than twice the age of Buttigieg and is making his second charge for the nomination in four years, was snapping at his heels on 26.1 percent.

Fellow progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren stood at 18.2 percent, while former vice president Joe Biden, the national frontrunner, was fourth with 15.8 percent.

Iowa’s quirky, byzantine caucus process was marred by technical glitches that forced an embarrassing delay in reporting of results in the closely-watched contest.

The 77-year-old Biden, like Buttigieg already campaigning in the next state to vote, New Hampshire, acknowledged that his poor showing in Iowa was a “gut punch,” but insisted he would stick it out.

The key figures released by the Iowa Democratic Party are percentages of the all-important delegates that the state sends to the national convention to vote for in the nomination process.

Buttigieg, a virtual unknown nationally one year ago, startled political observers by seizing the top spot over Sanders who had been leading in Iowa polls ahead of the caucuses.

Iowa’s pick has a recent historical track record of going on to become the national Democratic nominee.

 

AFP

US Elections: Sanders Claims Victory In Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters as they wait for results to come in at his caucus night watch party on February 3, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. Kerem Yucel / AFP
Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters as they wait for results to come in at his caucus night watch party on February 3, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Kerem Yucel / AFP

 

Senator Bernie Sanders claimed victory in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, citing internal campaign data that placed him ahead of Pete Buttigieg after a major delay to the release of official results.

The first vote of the US election season, Iowa’s caucuses kick off the Democratic primary that will determine who challenges Donald Trump in November.

Data released by the Sanders campaign, which said it represents results from nearly 40 percent of precincts in Iowa, shows the leftist senator garnering 28.62 percent of the vote, followed by moderate Buttigieg on 25.71 percent.

“We recognize that this does not replace the full data from the Iowa Democratic Party, but we believe firmly that our supporters worked too hard for too long to have the results of that work delayed,” Sanders advisor Jeff Weaver said.

The data collected by Sanders campaign volunteers showed progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren in third place, with 18.42 percent of the vote, with former vice president Joe Biden slipping to fourth place on 15.08 percent.

The only other candidate polling above 10 percent was Amy Klobuchar, on 10.93.

Monday’s contest turned sour after major hiccups in the reporting process prevented the release of official results.

 

AFP

Nobody Likes Bernie Sanders, Says Hillary Clinton

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 17: Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks onstage during the Hulu Panel at Winter TCA 2020 at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 17, 2020, in Pasadena, California. Erik Voake/Getty Images for Hulu/AFP
Erik Voake / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Hillary Clinton launched a scathing attack on presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, her rival for the 2016 Democratic nomination, telling a documentary that “nobody likes him.”

The former US secretary of state also refused to say whether she would endorse and campaign for Sanders if he becomes the Democrats’ choice to take on President Donald Trump in November’s election.

Her comments on Tuesday drew the ire of Sanders’ supporters, who called on Clinton to support the candidate the party backs in their bid to remove Trump from the White House.

“He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him,” Clinton says in a four-part series due to air on streaming site Hulu in March.

“Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician.

“It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it,” she adds.

Sanders, a leftist senator from Vermont, is among the leaders in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

He sits second in national polls behind centrist Joe Biden and ahead of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, two weeks before the first nomination vote in Iowa.

Sanders, 78, pushed 72-year-old Clinton to the wire four years ago in an acrimonious, months-long battle for the party’s nomination. Clinton won that race but lost to Trump.

She has criticized Sanders and his supporters for not sufficiently backing her in the presidential vote.

Interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter about the documentary, Clinton stopped short of saying she would support Sanders if he won the nomination this year.

“I’m not going to go there yet. We’re still in a very vigorous primary season,” she said.

But in a tweet on Tuesday night, Clinton expanded on her position.

“I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views! But to be serious, the number one priority for our country and world is retiring Trump, and, as I always have, I will do whatever I can to support our nominee,” she wrote.

– Warren dispute –

Sanders played down the attack in the documentary, telling reporters that he was focused on Trump’s impeachment trial, which kicked off in earnest Tuesday.

“On a good day, my wife likes me, so let’s clear the air on that one,” he joked.

The Justice Democrats, a group close to Sanders, started a petition calling on Clinton to support whoever wins the nomination.

The former first lady and US senator also waded into a dispute between Warren and Sanders.

Warren has accused him of privately telling her in December 2018, as they contemplated White House runs, that he did not believe a woman could win a presidential election.

Sanders denies the claim but Clinton said the comment was “part of a pattern.”

“If it were a one-off, you might say, ‘OK, fine.’ But he said I was unqualified,” she recalled.

“It’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women,” she added.

Sanders apologized to Biden on Monday after one of his supporters, Zephyr Teachout, wrote an opinion article in The Guardian accusing the former vice-president of having “a big corruption problem.”

AFP