Nine hours after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders confirmed on February 20 he would challenge Donald Trump for the US Presidency the campaign had raised US$6 million from 225,000 contributors.
He is going to need that kind of financial support, because running against Trump and the “billionaire class”, as Sanders puts it, is a tall order for any challenger, but particularly one which bases its support among the working class, the poor and dispossessed.
“That is why we’ve set a goal of 1 million people saying that they’re ready to do what it takes to win this election,” he said.
Talking to CBS on February 20, Sanders said: “Someone can come along and say ‘I wanna do A’, or ‘I wanna do B’. But at the end of the day, the only way real change takes place is when millions of people stand up, fight back and say ‘Enough is enough. We’re going to have a government that works for all of us, not just the few’.”
“It is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump is defeated’, Sanders continued, “because I think it is unacceptable and un-American ... to have a president that is a pathological liar ... who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe, who is doing what no president in our lifetimes has come close to doing, that is trying to divide us up.”
He said that the campaign would include the demand of Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition-free.
He refuted the idea that such demands were “too extreme”, adding that over the past three years “all of those ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream”.
Sanders is committed to divest from fossil fuels, saying, “We need a president who understands that climate change is real, is an existential threat to our country and the entire planet and that we can generate massive job creation by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”
Sanders told The Young Turks program the same day that he had decided to run because he thought he was the “strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump.
“I think we can win states that Clinton lost … Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and maybe some others…
“The message that we are bringing forth is not just that we need to transform our economic and political system, so that it starts reflecting the needs of working families and not just the 1%.
“What we are trying to do in this campaign is to put together the strongest grassroots effort that anybody in American history has ever done.