SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and 2016 Democratic primary runner-up, announced Tuesday he would once again throw his hat into the ring for the country’s highest office.
"I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least a million people from across the country," he wrote in an email to supporters following an interview on Vermont Public Radio Tuesday morning.
In his announcement, Sanders described President Donald Trump as "a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction.” He also set out ambitious goals for his campaign.
"Our campaign," he said, "is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”
Trump fired back later Tuesday, saying his time had passed for a successful run for the White House.
"Personally, I think he missed his time," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "I wish Bernie well. It will be interesting to see how he does."
The 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist joins a crowded Democratic primary field of candidates. The bid could test whether Sanders can retain the anti-establishment appeal he enjoyed with many liberal voters in 2016, according to The New York Times.
Here are the challenges he could face this time around:
A victim of his own success?
The Democratic primary landscape looks far different than the one in 2016, The New York Times reported.
Sanders enters the 2020 as a frontrunner — far different than his position three years ago, when he was seen as a "protest candidate from the political fringe," according to CNN.
"I can tell you very happily, and I think any objective observer would confirm what I'm saying, is that in the last year and half or so, the Democratic party has moved in a far more progressive direction than they were before I ran for president," he said in an interview with CNN last year.
But his efforts to move to Democratic party to the left could make him a victim of his own success.
This time, Sanders will not be the only progressive candidate facing off against an establishment frontrunner. Instead, the Democratic primary field is already crowded with candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J.
Some of his fellow candidates have embraced the policy agenda Sanders championed in 2016 — such as progressive proposals to broaden social security, expand health care, and make higher education affordable — making it more difficult for Sanders to stand out.
“Ironically, Bernie’s agenda for working families will be the Democratic Party’s message in 2020, but he may not be the one leading the parade,” Bill Press, a talk show host who backed Sanders in 2016, said last year.
What could derail him
Sanders’ weak track record with black voters — an important Democratic party voter base — could threaten his candidacy, according to CNN.
Interviews with nearly two dozen current and former campaign staff revealed an uneven commitment to mobilizing black voters during his 2016 campaign, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Sanders has also faced allegations from women who say they were mistreated or harassed while working as staff on the 2016 campaign.
After The New York Times investigated complaints by female staff in January, Sanders apologized publicly.
In the aftermath of the allegations, both critics and allies of Sanders will pay close attention to his early campaign hires, CNN reported.
Sanders announced Tuesday that he tapped 39-year-old Faiz Shakir to serve as his campaign manager, according to The Daily Beast. Shakir joins the Sanders operation from the American Civil Liberties Union, where served as the national political director since 2017. Shakir identified as Muslim.
“Shakir is almost certainly the first campaign manager of a major presidential campaign who identifies as a Muslim,” The Daily Beast reported.
How people are reacting
“The thing I will say about him is don’t underestimate him,” McCain said on the talk show after Sanders announced his bid for the White House.
Harris distanced herself from Sanders on Tuesday. When asked by Fox News if she would run as a democratic socialist (how Sanders describes himself), the California Democrat answered: “I am not a democratic socialist.”
Tension between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Sanders also resurfaced Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.32 comments on this story
Clinton aide Philippe Reines tweeted that the media has given Sanders a “WELCOME BACK!” reception while telling Clinton to “go away.”
Jess McIntosh, communications adviser to Clinton on the 2016 campaign, focused on Sanders’ statement on Vermont public radio that “we have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age.”
McIntosh fired back on Twitter: “If Bernie is going to start this contest telling us he’s at a disadvantage as a white man it is going to be a LONG year.”