And now there are two.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced Thursday that he is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. That makes him the second person in the race on the Democrat side.
Like Clinton a few weeks ago, Sanders had a soft campaign launch. He simply emailed supporters, saying, “After a year of travel, discussion and dialogue, I have decided to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.”
Still, he will differentiate himself from Clinton by holding a news conference Thursday. She has yet to even sit down with national reporters. And Sanders does intend to “hold a major campaign kickoff in Vermont in several weeks,” Vermont Public Radio reported. Supporters are still waiting for Clinton’s big unveiling.
Sanders is officially an independent who votes with the Democrats in the Senate. But he is actually a socialist, and by entering the race, he will force Clinton to cover her left flank.
“I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country,” Sanders told the Associated Press.
His announcement came one day after Hillary Clinton attempted to shore up her troubled campaign with a big speech in New York. It focused on the criminal justice system, but included the usual prescription for cities like Baltimore, which have been run by liberals for generations.
“Let’s take on the broader inequities in our society. You can’t separate out the unrest we see in the streets from the cycles of poverty and despair that hollow out those neighborhoods,” she said. Sanders will press her to move even further left.
“It is not acceptable that a number of major profitable corporations have paid zero in federal income taxes in recent years, and that millionaire hedge fund managers often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than the truck drivers or nurses,” he said recently. He will also press Clinton on free trade.
So far, Sanders is almost invisible, pulling only about three percent support in a poll last month. But his entry could encourage other Democrats to challenge Clinton, as well.