Bernie Sanders is clear that if he were to run for president he would represent the candidate wiling to "stand up for the working class," but he is less than certain about his ability to overcome the challenges of launching a viable campaign.
"It ain't an easy task. I don't want to do this thing unless I can do it well," the Vermont Independent told an audience at the National Press Club on Monday.
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The self-avowed democratic socialist said he recognizes that running a campaign today requires an ability to raise substantial funds, noting that even if he were able to raise $100 apiece from 3 million people, it would only give him $300 million, significantly less than would be needed to challenge either Hillary Clinton or any of the Republican presidential candidates.
He also conceded that he lacks a burning desire to hold the office.
"It's not because I wake up every morning and say, 'boy, I really have this burning desire to be president of the United States,' " admitted Sanders.
That does not mean the 73-year old senator does not see the benefits of running.
"If I run it has to be done well. And if it's done well, and I run a winning campaign or a strong campaign, it is a real boon to the progressive community, because I believe that the issues I talk about are issues that millions and millions of people believe in," he told Politico
But, he added, if he did not run well, "then that would be a setback for the progressive community."
As an Independent senator who caucuses with the Democrats, Sanders has not settled on whether he would run as a Democrat or an Independent candidate.
"More and more people all over this country are looking for alternatives to the two-party system. So that's one of the reasons one might run as an Independent," he told reporters after his Monday speech.
In addition to facing a fundraising challenge, Sanders and any other potential Democratic candidate faces the reality that many in the party already have settled on Clinton as the nominee.
"There is no one else — she's the whole plan. She is by far the most experienced and qualified person we could possibly nominate. Not even on the horizon but on the far horizon," Democratic fundraiser Sarah Kovner told The New York Times
Clinton's strength is reflected in a March 9 McClatchy/Marist University poll
that found the former secretary of state with the support of 60 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters. In comparison, Vice President Joe Biden comes in second with 13 percent and Sanders is well behind with 5 percent support.
Whether he gets off the fence or not, Sanders is not likely to aggressively attack Clinton, particularly concerning the recent controversy over her use of personal email to conduct all of her official business as secretary of state.
"You're not going to be the sixteenth writer who asks me about Hillary, are you?" Sanders chastised Bloomberg's Dave Weigel
"I know you would not do that. You want to ask me about the state of the economy, unemployment, poverty. You would not ask me about my views on Hillary Clinton."
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