Senator Bernie Sanders looks to be teasing another presidential run, setting out his political agenda in an ambitious book rollout and discussing the contours of potential 2020 campaign in a new magazine profile.
Sanders teased the idea of running in a new interview with New York Magazine but also vowed to work his “ass off” to elect another candidate who may be a better contender to take on President Donald Trump.
"If it turns out that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump, then I will probably run," he said in the wide-ranging feature.
Sanders has remained in the political limelight since he lost the 2016 Democratic nomination to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, but he's since become the national figurehead for socialist ideas in the U.S. He's so well-liked by the American electorate that a Harvard-Harris poll found him to be the most popular U.S. politician in 2017.
If he runs in 2020, his ideas and platform wouldn’t be a huge leap from those of 2016, but Sanders said the experience would surely be different (if he were to run in 2020 he would be 79, and if he won he'd be the first president to serve in his 80s).
“It’s almost personally embarrassing to tell you how little we knew,” he said of the 2016 run. He compared his presidential run to getting “five Ph.D.’s wrapped up in six months.”
Sanders is not committing to the idea of 2020, but he is planning for it.
“I’m not one of those sons of multimillionaires whose parents told them they were going to become president of the United States,” he told New York Magazine. “I don’t wake up in the morning with any burning desire that I have to be president. If there’s somebody else who appears who can, for whatever reason, do a better job than me, I’ll work my ass off to elect him or her."
While he's certainely voiced his feelings for President Trump he says his rage against the man in the Oval Office will not be central to any future run for president.
He noted that during his 2016 run people called him crazy for believing in Medicare for All, and free college tuition, but now “virtually every one of the issues I talked about … are supported by, in many cases, a vast majority of the American people.” Since 2016 he’s visited more than 30 states.
His advisers and team have met multiple times to strategize for the potential run, noting that the cost and the competition could be greater than ever. And his team believes the possibility of a better Trump opponent brewing is unlikely.
“He’s uniquely positioned to do better against Trump in the general because he appeals to white working-class and rural voters — much better than a conventional Democrat does,” Ben Tulchin, Sanders’s 2016 pollster told The Atlantic. “He also is very popular and has done well in the Midwest, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, which are critical to winning.”
Sanders' new book, "Where We Go From Here" (out Tuesday) seems to side with Tulchin's confidence in what 2020 could bring, hinting to readers that Sanders isn't done fighting yet — and he won't be done for a while.
“This is not a time for despair. This is not a time for depression. This is a time to stand up and fight back,” Sanders wrote. “Please join us.”