Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ rivals in the race for the Democratic nomination for president have been sure to emphasize that he is a democratic socialist, and not a member of the Democratic Party, The Hill reports.
Although Sanders caucuses with Democrats and ran for the party’s nomination in 2016, he is not a member of the party. He has served in Congress as an independent since his first election to the House in 1990, and has described himself as a socialist since serving as mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980’s.
“That’s who Bernie is, everyone knows it, and he does a good job defining what he means by a democratic socialist,” said Bill Press, TV host and Sanders surrogate in 2016. “After he’s done talking about a $15 minimum wage, 'Medicare for all,' and free college tuition, everybody wants to be a democratic socialist.”
“I think socialist is a word that someone who wants to beat [President Donald] Trump should consider carefully before embracing," said a senior adviser to the campaign of another candidate.
However, Larry Cohen, the chair of political group Our Revolution, which emerged from Sanders’ previous presidential campaign, dismissed that concern.
“He’s clearly a Democrat and the party has grown enormously because of his efforts,” Cohen said. “And his real brand is that he doesn’t just speak to Democrats. He speaks to literally millions of people that are unaffiliated. And he’s really talking about what we should aim for and where we can build a consensus.”
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