Democratic presidential candidate and Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders is finally having his formal campaign launch event on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 almost a month after declaring his candidacy. The campaign “kickoff” event is expected to represent the candidate’s home state, with homegrown, music, ice cream and speakers. Sanders, 73 first confirmed his candidacy in interview with the Associated Press on April 29, confirming it in an ABC News interview on April 30, and then gave a news conference later in the day on Capitol Hill.
Sanders big campaign kickoff on May 26 will be held in Burlington Vermont, where he served as mayor in 1980s. The Waterfront Park event will be a family affair; with local Zydeco/Cajun band Mango Jam providing music entertainment, free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and appearances by creators Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and Vermont environmentalist Bill McKibben will also address the public.
Sanders’ statement about the event indicated that Burlington is a natural location for his official launch speech, “My hometown of Burlington and the people of Vermont have a special place in my heart. There is nowhere else in the world where I would hold an event this important.” Sanders’ campaign already opened and began working at their headquarters on Church Street in Burlington.
The new Democratic presidential candidate outlined the launch’s purpose, “The formal kickoff will set the stage for the campaign to come. I will lay out an ‘Agenda for America’ which addresses the major crises we face and a vision of a government which works for all of our people and not just the billionaire class.”
Sanders first announced, “I am running for president,” in an April 29 Associated Press interview, where he promised, “to stand up and fight for working families all over the country.” Sanders is considered a “Democratic socialist” and believes, “People should not underestimate me. I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.”
Sander is the longest serving independent in Congress having first won his congressional seat in 1990, before winning a seat in the Senate in 2006. With the War in Iraq a still an issue tripping up Republican frontrunners such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and even Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Sanders points his distinction on the issue, “I voted against the war in Iraq. Secretary Clinton voted for it when she was in the Senate.”
The next day on April 30, Sander began his first formal day as a candidate with an interview with ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, which aired on “Good Morning America.” Sanders also seemed optimistic and certain about his chances, saying, “I think we’re going to have a surprise for you. We’re going to win this thing.” Sanders has proved he could be a formable fundraiser without a large PAC and corporate support, having raised a million dollars in the first 24 hours of his campaign.
Sanders also held a short 15-minute noon hour press conference on the capitol on April 30. The progressive Democratic candidate officially declared his candidacy and outlined the issues most important to him, particularly the middle class. Sanders plans to wage his campaign against the billionaires who he believes are controlling the government and manipulating the campaign, “This beautiful Capitol and this country belong to all of us. How can it happen that the top 1% owns almost as much wealth as the other 99% of Americans? It is not only immoral, it is not only wrong, it can’t continue.”
After the campaign kick-off event, Sanders begins campaign trips to early primary states, New Hampshire on Wednesday, May 27 and then Iowa on Thursday, May 28.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.