Bernie Sanders has been allegedly running for President against Hillary Clinton for months, but apart from people who read the comments section of DailyKos, the only thing most Americans can identify that he’s done during the course of this race was defend Hillary Clinton on the email scandal. Sanders clearly was hoping that Biden might enter the race and split the Democrat establishment vote with Hillary, and that he could coast to the nomination with a “positive” campaign that criticized only Republicans and people who have or create jobs.
This was never going to succeed, but the last two weeks have clarified for Bernie Sanders that his trajectory had reached an electoral plateau, and that this plateau was well short of what was needed to actually win the nomination. We have been watching the Sanders campaign with curiosity since then, trying to determine whether Sanders was actually campaigning to raise his profile for the purposes of a retirement book tour or a cabinet position in the Hillary administration, or whether he intended to actually run for President. Personally, I always suspected the former was Sanders’ goal all along.
To my very great surprise, it turns out that Bernie Sanders actually wants to be President. Over the weekend at a prominent Democrat fundraising dinner, Sanders unloaded on Clinton’s weaknesses both personally and ideologically:
Sanders argued on Saturday that he’s been a steadfast progressive on such key issues as the Keystone XL pipeline, while Clinton makes her decisions based on polling.
“I promise you tonight, as your president, I will govern based on principle not poll numbers,” Sanders, a Vermont Independent, said to applause at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner.
He also vowed “not to abandon any segment of American society whether you’re gay or black or Latino or poor or working class — just because it is politically expedient at a given time.”
Sanders also blasted Clinton on the Iraq war and TPP:
The Iraq war, for starters. He opposed the use-of-force resolution when it came up for a vote in Congress in 2002. Clinton did not. It took years for her to express regret and say that she made a mistake.
On trade, Sanders said he never called the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact the “gold standard,” as Clinton did when she was secretary of state. He noted that he has opposed it from the start, along with other trade agreements. She now opposes the pact as ultimately negotiated.
The pointless Lincoln Chafee has joined Jim Webb as a former Democratic Presidential candidate which means that the Democrats are down to only Sanders and O’Malley as possible alternatives to Hillary. This, of course, means that there will be extra focus on Sanders to either put up or shut up in terms of being an opposition candidate to Hillary. It looks, for now, like Sanders intends to “put up.”