National Press Club

Sanders on Fence for 2016 Presidential Bid

March 9, 2015 | By Justin Duckham |

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gives an impassioned speech to a National Press Club luncheon, March 9, 2015.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gives an impassioned speech to a National Press Club luncheon, March 9, 2015.

Photo/Image: Al Teich

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told a luncheon audience at the National Press Club on Monday that he has not yet decided whether to run for President in 2016, explaining that his potential candidacy hinges on a number of logistical concerns, particularly his ability to fundraise.

“It ain’t an easy task,” Sanders said. “I don’t want to do this thing unless I can do it well.”

Sanders noted that if he was able to raise $100 each from 3 million people -- a significant increase from the $45 he receives from his average donor as a Senate candidate -- he would still only have $300 million, significantly less than the money that is expected to be supplied to the Republican candidate from the conservative billionaire duo Charles and David Koch.

Sanders also said that he was not sure if he would run on the Democratic ticket or as an independent, pointing out that running without party support could raise additional challenges, such as not being able to secure a spot on the debate stage.

If Sanders enters the race and runs as a Democrat, he would widely be seen as posing a dark horse challenge to presumptive front-runner Hillary Clinton, who is currently teasing a potential White House bid.

However, Sanders said, if he was to run as a Democrat, he would not see himself as running solely against the former Secretary of State.

“You’re looking at somebody whose run in many, many elections … the number of negative ads I’ve run in those years? Not one,” Sanders said. “Hillary Clinton is a remarkable woman with an extraordinary history of public service.”

Demonstrating his reluctance to go hard after Clinton, Sanders rejected an opportunity to blast the potential candidate for sending official emails on a private server during her tenure as Secretary of State, a move that has landed Clinton in hot water in the press.

“I know what you know, what you read in the newspaper,” Sanders said, adding that his office has received no calls regarding the issue.

Sanders’ comments on a potential run capped a barnburning speech outlining a progressive agenda for the U.S., one that has combating income inequality as its cornerstone.

“Today in a nation plagued by many, many concerns, the most serious problem we face is the grotesque ... growing level in wealth and income inequality,” Sanders argued. “This is the issue that impacts all other issues.”

Sanders called for an increase in the minimum wage, a nationalized healthcare program, pay equity for women, funding for higher education, a recognition of the dangers of climate change and the pursuit of renewable energy sources.

To achieve these goals and to ensure that the currently heavily divided Congress can move forward, Sanders said that there needs to be fierce, nationwide action at the grassroots level on the scale of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.

Sanders, who is currently the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee, came to the upper chamber in 2006. He had previously served 16 years in the House of Representatives.