Bernie Sanders wants to take on ‘billionaire class’ – By Burgess Everett 1/29/15 6:40 PM EST Updated 1/29/15 7:00 PM EST

The Vermont senator insists he wouldn’t run just to push Clinton to the left.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is pictured. | AP Photo

AP Photo

If Bernie Sanders plans to takes shots at Hillary Clinton, he’s saving his ammo.

The Vermont independent and self-proclaimed socialist said Thursday that he’ll continue to explore running in the Democratic primary with a trip to New Hampshire this weekend and a visit to Iowa shortly thereafter. But asked to critique the presumed Democratic nominee, Sanders wouldn’t go there, at least explicitly.

“All I know is if I run, I’m not running against Hillary Clinton,” Sanders said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air on Sunday. “What Hillary Clinton, or Mitt Romney, or anybody else has to say — that’s their business. And once we’re in a campaign, I can debate those issues.”

Absent a change of heart by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sanders is seen as perhaps the Democratic Party’s best vessel to channel populist outrage and push Clinton to the left in the Democratic primary. But he insisted that if he were to run, it wouldn’t be for that reason.

Sanders said his biggest causes on the campaign trail would be the “collapse of the middle class,” the rise of what he called the Koch brothers’ political “oligarchy” and the GOP’s position on climate change, which the senator called an “international embarrassment.”

“These and other issues are looming in front of us. And we’re going to need bold leadership, we’re going to need people prepared to take on, frankly, the billionaire class,” he said.

Article continues:

Read more:

The New Politics of Pot: The 2014 Candidates Who Want to Legalize It – By David Freedlander December 14th 20135:45 AM

Forget decriminalization or medical marijuana. Bolstered by state ballot victories, top-tier contenders in 2014 are seeking full legalization, the drug’s highest-profile advocacy ever.

After a round of victories at the ballot box, the spliff is trying its make case at the statehouse—and on the stump.

Photo by The Daily Beast
Advocates for marijuana legalization say the 2014 elections represent the first time that serious, top-tier candidates for major state and federal offices are advocating for full legalization of the drug. In Pennsylvania and Maryland, top contenders for the Democratic nomination for governor are calling for legalization, as is the likely Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Maine. And earlier this week, a legalization bill was introduced in the Legislature in New York, making the state the sixth with an active bill under consideration. Legalization bills failed in six other states in 2013.

“It shows there has been a big shift in mainstream politics. You are a seeing a lot of movement in the Democratic Party especially,” said Erik Altieri, the communications director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws and the manager of NORML PAC, which donated to three candidates last year and has already endorsed John Hanger, the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania who has made legalization a key part of his platform. “For Democrats in primaries, it has become an issue that sets you apart and gets you votes because there is overwhelming support for legalization. Soon enough politicians are going to be stumbling over themselves not only to support this but to say who supports it more.”

“You know the Wayne Gretzky line, ‘I don’t skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it will be.’ Well, most politicians want to skate where the puck already was.”

To be clear, these pols don’t just support medical marijuana, which is legal in 20 states plus Washington, D.C., and which polls show more than 80 percent of Americans support. Nor do they advocate only for the decriminalization of marijuana, which would change the law so that possessing a small amount of marijuana merits a fine and a ticket instead of jail and a felony conviction. Instead these candidates are calling for full legalization, introducing a tax and regulatory regime that they say would make the drug safer and bolster state budgets.

Article continues: