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Bernie Got Bank: Socialist Sanders Still a Political Force with Big Cash, but Has His Moment Passed?

02-20-2019
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Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (Photo: screen capture)

One of President Trump's ideological polar opposites has entered the 2020 race – and with a splash.

In the first 12 hours after Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced his 2020 intentions, his campaign said he raised a record $4 million. Add that to his already sizable $15 million war chest and Sanders has easily more cash in the bank than any of his Democratic competitors.

Thanks to his widely popular 2016 run, the senator also enjoys serious name recognition, but is it enough?

Sanders entered the race on Tuesday vowing to continue what he considers to be a political revolution started in 2016.

In a political ad he told supporters "now it's time to complete that revolution and implement the vision we fought for."

The self-proclaimed democratic socialist is hoping that 2020 will be his moment, arguing that many of his once-fringe ideas are now accepted by the Democratic Party.

He told CBS's John Dickerson, "In 2016, many of the ideas that I talked about – Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition-free – all of those ideas people said 'oh Bernie they're so radical, they are extreme the American people just won't accept those ideas.' Well, you know what's happened over three years? All of those ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream."

Populist candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is building on some of those ideas, announcing this week a plan for universal childcare. The $70 billion-a-year program would be funded by taxing the wealthiest Americans.

But some Democrats are keeping their distance. Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has rejected the idea of free tuition and another presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), makes the point – she's not a socialist.
   
On the campaign trail she pulled away from Sanders explaining, "I'm not a democratic socialist. I believe that capitalism has great strengths when it works for all people equally well."

On Tuesday, Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said that while some of the Democratic candidates may embrace Sanders' socialism, voters will not. "The American people will reject an agenda of sky-high tax rates, government-run health care and coddling dictators like those in Venezuela," she said.

The president himself told reporters that Sanders has no chance. "I think he missed his time," he said.

But some polls show that of the current Democratic candidates, Sanders is the strongest – unless Joe Biden enters the race. Those closest to the former vice president say he's still considering a run.

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