Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont scoffed at the notion that his challenge to Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination was a “fringe campaign” after the self-described Democratic socialist drew about 800 people to a town meeting late last week at Drake University in Des Moine, Iowa.
“Well, if this is fringe, I would hate to see mainstream,” Sanders told the enthusiastic crowd, according to The Washington Post.
While analysts have largely written off his campaign against Clinton as “Mission Impossible,” the 73-year-old Sanders has been drawing impressive and boisterous audiences in Iowa and New Hampshire in the early stages of a campaign that he is running on a shoe-string compared with Clinton’s massive fundraising machine.
Clinton, who formally launched her campaign on Saturday during a high profile announcement and speech in New York, leads Sanders and the rest of the miniscule Democratic field by large margins of more than 40 percent in Iowa and South Carolina, two states she lost when battling Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, according to new surveys conducted by the Morning Consult.
Clinton garnered 54 percent of the vote in Iowa compared with just 12 percent for Sanders and nine percent for Vice President Joe Biden (who is not running). In South Carolina, another important early primary state, the former first lady and senator leads Biden by a 56 percent to 15 percent margin, with Sanders trailing at 10 percent, according to the poll.
Yet in New Hampshire, the state that helped Clinton revive her flagging campaign in 2008, her lead over Sanders is much narrower, according to the Morning Consult poll. Among voters who say they will participate in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary, 44 percent chose Clinton, while 32 percent picked Sanders. Meanwhile, eight percent favored Biden, one percent favored former Virginia senator Jim Webb and virtually nobody supported former Rhode Island senator and governor Lincoln Chafee.
With his ringing anti-Wall Street populist messsage, Sanders is tapping into the Democratic party’s progressive wing – including some who had hoped at one time that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) might change her mind and enter the race. In promising a presidency that would put an end to income inequality in the country, Sanders says that banks such as JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America are “too big to be reformed” and must be broken up.
His agenda also includes boosting the minimum wage, creating a new federal jobs program, reforming the immigration laws and moving toward a single-payer “Medicare for all” program.
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