Bernie Sanders says he will run for president if he can ‘do it well’ – by Ned Resnikoff March 31, 2015 1:15AM ET

Socialist senator and rumored 2016 candidate says he is still deciding whether to enter Democratic race

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at Mar 31, 2015 3.12

SAN FRANCISCO — Speaking to a packed crowd of supporters on Monday evening, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he was still mulling entering the 2016 presidential contest, but would only do so if he thought he could “put together millions of people who are prepared to work really hard to take on the big money interests.”

Sanders has openly discussed his potential candidacy for months, and even paid a visit to the crucial primary state of Iowa earlier this year. But in recent weeks he has begun to sound more reluctant about jumping into the race, in large part because of doubts over whether he could raise the money necessary to run a credible campaign. During Monday’s speaking event, Sanders indicated that he was concerned a poor showing would undermine political support for left-wing economic policies.

“It has to be done well,” said the Senate’s one self-identified democratic socialist said during a public event at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club, the oldest public affairs forum in the United States. “Because if it’s not done well, then people will say, ‘Oh, income and wealth inequality; if you didn’t do very well in your campaign, then no one believes in that.’”

But if the senator is leaning against running, he gave no indication on Monday. Instead he turned the question on the audience, asking how many people in the crowd wanted him to run for president and would be willing to volunteer for his campaign if he did.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders On How Democrats Lost White Voters – November 19, 2014 5:03 AM ET

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is one of two independents in the Senate. Now, the self-described socialist says he may run for president.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, says "the average person is working longer hours, lower wages, and they do not see any political party standing up and fighting for their rights."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, says “the average person is working longer hours, lower wages, and they do not see any political party standing up and fighting for their rights.” Win McNamee/Getty Images


Sanders is aligned with Senate Democrats, but he has spoken lately of a problem with the Democratic coalition that elected President Obama. He says working-class white voters have abandoned Democrats in large numbers. The party, he says, has “not made it clear that they are prepared to stand with the working-class people of this country, take on the big money interests.”

NPR’s Steve Inskeep sat down with Sanders in his office and talked about the senator’s plan for the middle class, how he says the Democratic Party lost its way, and American action against the Islamic State.

Interview Highlights

On what the Democrats should learn from their midterm election defeat

To see where the Democratic Party is, I think, it’s important to understand where America is. And where America is, is that today we are seeing the collapse, the continued collapse, of the American middle class. You have working-class families who have given up the dream of sending their kids to college. My family never had any money. My father came … from Poland without a nickel in his pocket. He was able to send two of his kids to college. That dream is now not a reality for a whole lot of folks in this country.

And then people look out and they say, “Gee, the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well.” And where are the Democrats? Do people see the Democratic Party standing up to Wall Street? Any of these guys going to jail? Not really. The average person is working longer hours, lower wages, and they do not see any political party standing up and fighting for their rights. What they see is a Republican Party becoming extremely right wing, controlled by folks like the Koch brothers. But they do not see a party representing the working class of this country.

On why he says Democrats are losing white voters

Well, I am focusing on the fact that whether you’re white or black or Hispanic or Asian, if you are in the working class, you are struggling to keep your heads above water. You’re worried about your kids. What should the Democratic Party be talking about, Steve? What they should be talking about is a massive federal jobs program. There was once a time when our nation’s infrastructure — roads, bridges, water systems, rail — were the envy of the world. Today that’s no longer the case.

I would say if you go out on the street and you talk to people and say, “Which is the party of the American working class?” People would look to you like you were a little bit crazy, they wouldn’t know what you were talking about, and they certainly wouldn’t identify the Democrats.

On African-American support for Democrats

Well, here’s what you got. What you got is an African-American president, and the African-American community is very, very proud that this country has overcome racism and voted for him for president. And that’s kind of natural. You’ve got a situation where the Republican Party has been strongly anti-immigration, and you’ve got a Hispanic community which is looking to the Democrats for help.

But that’s not important. You should not be basing your politics based on your color. What you should be basing your politics on is, how is your family doing? … In the last election, in state after state, you had an abysmally low vote for the Democrats among white, working-class people. And I think the reason for that is that the Democrats have not made it clear that they are prepared to stand with the working-class people of this country, take on the big money interests. I think the key issue that we have to focus on, and I know people are uncomfortable about talking about it, is the role of the billionaire class in American society.

On why Americans are uncomfortable talking about the ‘billionaire class’

Because they fund organizations like NPR and the media in general. Because they make huge campaign contributions, to politics, to politicians of all stripes.

On the U.S. approach to battling the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq

I think the president is … moving us in the right direction. My own view is that if we’re gonna be successful in defeating this brutal organization called ISIS, what needs to happen is that the people in the region, the Muslim nations, are gonna have to take the responsibility of leading that effort. It cannot be the United States of America. In many ways I think that’s exactly what ISIS wants. They want this to be a war of the United States versus ISIS, of the West versus the east, of Christianity versus Islam. What has got to happen is countries like Saudi Arabia which, by the way, has the fourth-largest defense budget in the world … they’re gonna have to step up to the plate and take the leadership in fighting ISIS.

Independent Bill Walker wins Alaska governor’s race By Patrick Temple-West 11/14/14 11:31 PM EST

Alaska Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker is pictured. | AP Photo

The race was too close to call on election night. This week, thousands of absentee ballots and questioned ballots were counted, according to the Associated Press. | AP Photo

Independent Bill Walker has won the Alaska governor’s race, defeating incumbent Republican Sean Parnell, according to The Associated Press.

Parnell faced off against Walker, a former the Republican turned independent, in what looked to be a cakewalk for Parnell but turned into a dogfight for the incumbent.

The race was too close to call on election night. This week, thousands of absentee ballots and questioned ballots were counted, according to the Associated Press.

In an unusual twist even for the obscure politics of the Last Frontier State, Walker teamed up with Democrats to create a united front against Parnell.

Walker formed a fusion ticket with Byron Mallott, who had been the Democratic gubernatorial nominee but agreed to run as Walker’s lieutenant governor. The Democratic state committee voted to allow Walker to switch drop his party affiliation, and a judge upheld the partnership.

The bipartisan combo won the backing tea-party darling and former Republican vice-presidential contender Sarah Palin.

Palin accused Parnell, her ex-running mate and a former oil lobbyist, of “caving” to Big Oil. She’s likened his policies to a time when elected Alaskan officials were indicted on corruption charges and accused of taking payoffs from oil interests.

Racist Libertarian Hero Cliven Bundy Is Back With a Bizarre Campaign Ad – By Caroline Bankoff October 18, 2014 5:44 p.m.

Thankfully, Cliven Bundy is not running for anything in his home state of Nevada, but he is helping someone else out with their campaign. The freeloading rancher and libertarian hero who turned out to be a huge racist has reemerged in a bizarre, depressing ad for third-party congressional candidate Kamau Bakari, who just so happens to be black.

In the video, Bundy and Bakari don matching cowboy hats and hold a little meeting in front of a horse, where they discuss the trouble with “political correctness” while some showdown-at-the-old-saloon music plays. “Cliven, you know that political correctness, that’s bad for America,” Bakari observes. “A man ought to be able to say whatever he wants to say.”

“That’s exactly right,” Bundy responds. “I know that black folks have had a hard time with, uh, slavery, and, you know, the government was in on it — and the government’s in on it again…A man ought to be able to express himself without being called names.”

“I hear you, Cliven, and I believe you. A brave white man like you might be just what we need to put an end to this political correctness stuff in America today,” says Bakari. It’s pretty much downhill from there until the end, when they “dare” Eric Holder to come talk to them about race.

In case you were wondering just how weird things are out in Nevada: Bakari, who represents the Independent American, doesn’t stand a chance of unseating Democrat Representative Dina Titus. But, now that this ad exists, everyone can lose!

Republicans and Democrats: Doomed!?! – By KENNETH P. VOGEL, DARREN SAMUELSOHN and TARINI PARTI | 9/30/14 5:05 AM EDT

An attendee makes a donation to the campaign before US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a fundraiser. | Getty

The despondency arms race is not without irony for both sides, in different ways. | Getty


BREAKING: The fight for control of Congress is EXTREMELY CLOSE, but unless something changes BEFORE MIDNIGHT, Democrats are going to suffer CRUSHING DEFEATS under a wave of Republican big money.

But wait, Republicans, too, are being BEAT UP and CAN’T DEFEND THEMSELVES against Democrats who are OUTRAISING them.

Welcome to the politics of gloom, where Democratic and Republican operatives are dashing off Chicken Little emails at a dizzying rate, urging supporters to type in their credit card numbers and give $5, $10, or more ahead of a Tuesday night federal elections deadline — all in the name of leveling the playing field with the other sides’ relentless billionaires.

(Also on POLITICO: Incumbent govs fear wipeout)

So in an election where America’s political mood is dark, but the potential to raise money is bright, both sides are embracing a simple truth: Pessimism sells.

Gloominess used to be the domain of Democrats, who this weekend alone blasted out party fundraising emails declaring “Kiss any hope goodbye,” and “If you’ve given up on this election, then we should just quit now.”

But even Karl Rove — the GOP’s preeminent mega-donor schmoozerwho helped raise $325 million in massive super PAC checks for 2012 by projecting a poll-defying optimism that was laid bare on election night — has altered his approach this time around.

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The Mystery Candidate Shaking Up Kansas Politics – MOLLY BALL SEP 27 2014, 8:00 AM ET

Charlie Riedel/AP 

WICHITA, Kan.—In 2000, a wealthy Kansas businessman named Greg Orman decided to write a book. It was going to be called Good Politics Is Bad Policy, and it would explain the distressing phenomenon he perceived—the misalignment of politicians’ incentives with the country’s needs.

Writing a book turned out to be even harder than making millions, and it was never published. But the problem Orman had diagnosed didn’t get any better.

“We’re still sending the worst of both parties to Washington—people who seem more interested in getting reelected than they do in solving problems,” Orman, a tanned, youthful-looking 45-year-old with gelled-up dark hair, said on Wednesday. He was speaking in a windowless room at the top of a bank building in Wichita, to an audience of about 40 retired teachers on folding chairs. “They draw childish lines in the sand, they refuse to cooperate, and as a result, inaction has replaced leadership when it comes to solving our most pressing problems.”

Orman, an independent candidate for Senate, suddenly became the most intriguing person in politics last week, when a court allowed the Democratic candidate to withdraw from the ballot, making Orman the principal opponent of Republican Senator Pat Roberts. This development, in a race nobody expected to be competitive, has shoved into the spotlight an unknown candidate whose pitch against partisanship resonates with a conflict-weary electorate.

“Greg Orman has grabbed this race by the throat,” said Chapman Rackaway, a political scientist at Fort Hays State University, noting that Orman leads Roberts in several recent polls. “You just have the sense—I see it every time I talk to people—that politics is broken. When someone reinforces that, saying, ‘Yes, both parties are the problem,’ that really resonates with people right now.”

Control of the Senate could hinge on this unlikely contest between an insistently nonpartisan, Ivy League-educated former consultant and a Republican incumbent who’s spent 33 years in Washington. If elected, Orman says he would caucus with whichever party has the majority. But if there are 50 Republicans and 49 Democrats, he would play tiebreaker: Joining the GOP would give them 51 votes; joining Democrats would give them 50 votes plus the vice president. In that case, Orman says, he would ask both parties to commit to issues like immigration and tax reform, and join the one that agreed. “We’re going to work with the party that’s willing to solve our country’s problems,” Orman said in an interview.

Almost every ballot has an independent or third-party candidate who blames the two major parties for America’s problems. Most of them are flakes or gadflies who go unnoticed. But Orman has money, he’s run a smart campaign, and he seems to be in the right place at the right time. A weak Republican incumbent, a Democrat willing to get out of the way, and a state whose Republican majority has been badly split by years of toxic intraparty battles—all these factors have made Kansas uniquely receptive to Orman’s message.

Most of the teachers in Wichita were Democrats, but not Jim Unruh, a 73-year-old Republican who’d come with his wife. Unruh owns an auto-repair business, and his brother is a Republican county commissioner, but he’d decided to support Orman. He told me he had three candidates’ signs in his yard: Paul Davis, the Democrat challenging Governor Sam Brownback; Jean Schodorf, the Democrat for secretary of state; and Republican Representative Mike Pompeo, a Tea Party-aligned conservative. “I think those people can get something done,” he said. “The road we’re going down right now is a washout.”

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