BOSTON (CBS) – Three years ago tonight, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was riding high after swamping Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary.
And while he lost that nomination fight, Sanders remains justifiably proud of the impact he had on party ideology.
“Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition-free. All of those ideas, people were saying, ‘Oh Bernie, they’re so radical. They are extreme. The American people just won’t accept those ideas,'” he told CBS This Morning. “Well, you know what’s happened in over three years? All of those ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream.”
But with the next NH primary less than a year away, Sanders has announced his entrance into a race where much of what made him stand out back in 2016 no longer does.
His high-spending vision is now widely echoed by other Democratic candidates, even as the Republican president is running up record deficits.
Sanders minces no words in his description of President Trump as “a racist…a sexist…a xenophobe.” But the straight talk that contrasted nicely with Clinton’s cautious rhetoric three years ago must now share airspace with equally blunt talk from others, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who Sanders urged to run in 2016 before jumping in himself.
And some of what still differentiates Sanders from the pack – like his age – seems out of sync with what voters wanted in the midterm elections, especially the #MeToo era surge of women running and winning with deep support from other women, an unflattering contrast with the poor treatment of some women on the 2016 Sanders campaign.
“In retrospect,” he told CBS, “some of the people that were hired should not have been hired and some women went through experiences that they should not have.”
Sanders claims he’ll ignite a grassroots movement with this renewed candidacy, and his announcement triggered over a million dollars in small-dollar donations, an impressive haul. But his efforts over the past two years to get like-minded candidates elected in down-ballot races have yielded mixed results.
They say timing is everything. So the question for Sanders and those still feeling the Bern is – has their man’s time come and gone?