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Bernie Sanders

Senator from Vermont
Jump to  stances on the issues
Sanders, an independent, is back after waging an unsuccessful challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016 with a democratic socialist platform that included free college tuition. His positions on those issues have driven the policy debate within the Democratic Party ever since. He was elected to the Senate in 2006 and was previously in the House for 16 years.
University of Chicago, B.A. (1964)
September 8, 1941
Jane Sanders; divorced from Deborah Shiling
Levi (son with Susan Mott)
Heather, Carina and David
Congressman from Vermont, 1991-2007;
Mayor of Burlington, 1981-1989
Latest National Polling
CBS News/ YouGov
Released 02/23/20
Washington Post/ ABC News
Released 02/19/20
Ipsos/ Reuters
Released 02/19/20
Why Joe Biden poses the biggest (only?) threat to Bernie Sanders' dominance
Updated 12:41 PM ET, Thu Feb 27, 2020
On the eve of the South Carolina primary -- the fourth vote of the 2020 Democratic presidential race -- the dynamic of the contest is now crystal clear: There is Bernie Sanders, and then there are all the other candidates competing to be the alternative option to the Vermont senator. Sanders' wins in New Hampshire and Nevada, coupled with his near-victory in Iowa, have showcased not only the durability of his core support but also his ability to grow his backing in key Democratic constituencies. (Sanders won a whopping 53% of the Hispanic vote in Nevada.) He is now surprisingly competitive with longtime leader former Vice President Joe Biden in South Carolina, and polling in big states set to vote on Super Tuesday like California and Texas suggests Sanders is likely to emerge on March 4 with a very clear delegate lead over the rest of the field. The race to be the Sanders alternative (or the anti-Sanders) is far less formed. If Biden can win in South Carolina -- and even better if he can do so by a wide margin -- he will have a case to make that he is the Sanders alternative given his support in the black community. (Biden told the Charleston Post & Courier on Thursday that candidates who can't get a significant chunk of black voters should leave the race.) A Biden victory, especially if it's by double-digits, would seemingly position him well heading into Super Tuesday. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has, to date, made the most pointed argument against Sanders -- suggesting that nominating a democratic socialist will have a lasting and deleterious impact on the broader Democratic Party. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been less effective as an anti-Sanders messenger, but he is worth $60+ billion and will continue to spend heavily to convince voters he is the only viable option. And then there is Elizabeth Warren. While Warren, like everyone else in the race, is governed by the Bernie/Not Bernie dynamic, the Massachusetts senator seems unwilling to acknowledge that fact -- spending most of her rhetorical fire on Bloomberg rather than Bernie in Tuesday's debate in South Carolina. If Warren has a plan on how she gets to the nomination without drawing hard comparisons to Sanders, we're all ears. Below, the five candidates most likely to wind up as the Democratic nominee against President Donald Trump. 5. Elizabeth Warren: If we're being real with ourselves, the senior senator of Massachusetts' shot is declining, not rising. Still, Warren has a better shot than Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Warren's national poll standing is holding in the low teens, which should be enough to win some delegates on Super Tuesday. Furthermore, Warren has found that attacking Bloomberg has allowed her to fund her campaign. But just to show you Warren's deep hole: she may get beaten by Sanders in her home state. (Previous ranking: Not ranked) 4. Michael Bloomberg: Sometimes things in the abstract are better than things in reality. Welcome to the Bloomberg campaign for president. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertisements, the former mayor of New York saw his numbers climb nationally and in some Super Tuesday states. Then Bloomberg stepped onto the debate stage, looked not so good (to put it mildly) and hit a wall. Bloomberg's polling has stagnated. Worse for him, the potential comeback story of Biden limits his appeal as the electable moderate. (Previous ranking: 4) 3. Pete Buttigieg: Buttigieg had to be hoping for more in Nevada. His third-place finish was respectable but did nothing to quiet critics who say he can't win non-white voters. That storyline is likely to get even more fuel on Saturday -- as there is little evidence to suggest that the former South Bend mayor is going to surprise in South Carolina. And then comes Super Tuesday, where better-known candidates like Sanders, Bloomberg, Biden and even Warren may well do better. That said, Buttigieg has finished first, second and third in the first three votes -- a record that only Sanders can top. And that demonstrated appeal to voters means we shouldn't count him out. (Previous ranking: 2) 2. Joe Biden: The former vice president needs a win in South Carolina to continue on in this race, and it looks like he could get it. A Monmouth University poll released Thursday has Biden up 20 points. Biden still has a lot of flaws (such as a lack of money and organization). But a big win in South Carolina could be what Biden needs heading into Super Tuesday. Back in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama got a 10-point bounce in the national polls after winning in South Carolina. That just happens to be about the difference nationally between Biden and Sanders right now. (Previous ranking: 3) 1. Bernie Sanders: Two weeks ago, we had Sanders in this top slot but there were arguments to be made that he was a weak No. 1. He had lost the delegate count in Iowa to Buttigieg and prevailed in New Hampshire by less than was expected. But then came the Nevada caucuses six days ago. Sanders' victory there was complete -- winning across demographic groups, age groups and ideological groups. It still seems unlikely that Sanders will wrap the nomination up anytime soon, but he has the best odds of anyone in the field of doing so. (Previous ranking: 1)
climate crisis
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Sanders has described climate change – now as well as during his 2016 run for president – as a global security threat. He is a leading proponent of the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. In August 2019, Sanders released a $16.3 trillion climate change program. His targets include meeting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s goal of 100% renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030; cutting domestic emissions by 71% over that period; creating a $526 billion electric "smart grid”; investing $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund; and prioritizing what activists call a “just transition” for fossil fuel workers who would be dislocated during the transition. The Vermont independent would also cut off billions in subsidies to fossil fuel companies and impose bans on extractive practices, including fracking and mountaintop coal mining, while halting the import and export of coal, oil and natural gas. Sanders vows to recommit the US to the Paris climate accord, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. More on Sanders’ climate crisis policy
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Sanders introduced his 21st-century Economic Bill of Rights in June 2019, in which he pledged “once and for all that every American, regardless of his or her income, is entitled to the right to a decent job that pays a living wage; the right to quality health care; the right to a complete education; the right to affordable housing; the right to a clean environment; and the right to a secure retirement.” In October 2019, he introduced a plan that would guarantee workers eventually take control of 20% stakes in the country’s largest companies through the issuance of new stock and would mandate that employees elect 45% of corporate boards of directors. The Sanders plan would also impose strict new guidelines on mega-mergers, while asking a revamped Federal Trade Commission to review deals pushed through during the Trump administration. Throughout his career, Sanders has been pro-union, saying in January, “If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and creating good-paying jobs, we have to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country.” In 2017, he supported a 10-year infrastructure plan costing $1 trillion. At the time, proponents estimated the plan would create 15 million jobs. He had put forth a similar proposal during his first presidential campaign. More on Sanders’ economic policy
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Sanders would eliminate tuition and fees at, as his campaign says, “four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs.” He unveiled legislation in June 2019 that would wipe out $1.6 trillion in undergraduate and graduate student loan debt for about 45 million people. The plan has no eligibility limitations and would be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street speculation. Sanders frequently describes education as a “human right.” That means “making public colleges, universities and historically black colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free by tripling the work study program, expanding Pell grants and other financial incentives," he said. His “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education” would seek to improve the K-12 system by taking aim at de facto segregation and public-school funding disparities while banning for-profit charter schools. More on Sanders’ education policy
gun violence
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Sanders describes “an epidemic of gun violence” in the US and has pushed for expanded background checks and the closing of assorted loopholes in firearm purchases. Sanders has consistently voted for legislation that would ban so-called assault weapons and said he would seek to do the same for high-capacity magazines. He said he would push for harsher punishments for “straw” purchases, when someone purchases a gun for someone who cannot legally possess a firearm. More on Sanders’ gun violence policy
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Sanders introduced “Medicare for All” legislation in 2017, which would have created a national government-run program providing comprehensive coverage with no premiums, deductibles or copays. He has taken this version of the plan one step further since its initial rollout to include long-term care at home and in the community for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Unlike some of his presidential opponents, Sanders says there should be no private insurance option except for items not covered by his Medicare for All act, such as elective procedures. Sanders argues that the increase in taxes would be more than offset by eliminating the premiums, deductibles and copayments associated with private health insurance. When asked during the first Democratic presidential debate about whether taxes would go up as a result of his health care plan, Sanders said: “Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in health care for what they get.” Sanders also supports importing drugs, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and pegging the price of medicine in the US to the median price in five other developed nations. More on Sanders’ health care policy
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Sanders has called for comprehensive immigration legislation, which includes providing a path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has proposed providing legal status for those covered by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields from deportation some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Sanders has also called for restructuring Immigration and Customs Enforcement. More on Sanders’ immigration policy
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