Sen. Bernie Sanders will travel to New Hampshire this weekend, following a path used by many presidential candidates over the past 25 years.
Sanders plans to make multiple trips to the state that holds the nation’s first presidential primary.
On Saturday, he will hold a Town Meeting at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. The college has become an important campaign stopping point for presidential candidates over the years.
Sanders says he’s definitely exploring the possibility of running for president in 2016 and he says he’s going to New Hampshire to see if his political message is popular outside of Vermont.
“It’s a way for me, you know I’ve never done this before obviously, to hear what people have to say. I have an agenda which people in Vermont are familiar with,” said Sanders. “But most people around the country are not familiar with it and I want to hear people’s input. Do they share my feelings? And this is an opportunity to do that in New Hampshire.”
As Sanders weighs a presidential bid, he’s also considering if he should run as an Independent or a Democrat. Sanders is the longest serving Independent in the U.S. Congress, so running as a Democrat would be a major change for him.
But Sanders says there are problems running as an Independent. He doesn’t want to be a third party spoiler candidate the way he says that Ralph Nader was in the 2000 election. And he says getting on the ballot in all 50 states is a time consuming and expensive process.
He says one of the benefits of running as a Democrat is that he would be invited to the party’s presidential candidate debates.
“I think it would be harder for the media, the corporate media which doesn’t particularly gravitate to my point of view, to ignore what I have to say if you ran within the two-party system,” said Sanders.
Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks it makes sense for Sanders to run as a Democrat if he enters the campaign. Davis thinks those presidential debates will offer Sanders an opportunity to raise a number of his core issues.
“The squeeze on the middle class, the stagnation of wages, the high cost of education, and the high cost of health care,” said Davis. “Plus what Sen. Sanders believes is the inordinate influence of wealthy individuals and corporations on the American political process.”
Davis doesn’t think Sanders has much of a chance of winning the Democratic nomination. But he says Sanders could have an impact on the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Sanders believes that by pushing Hillary Clinton from the left on a range of issues, he may lead to her positions on these issues in a fall campaign being somewhat more progressive than they would be otherwise,” said Davis.
Sanders has scheduled a second trip to New Hampshire for later this month. As the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, he’ll meet with a group of veterans to discuss ways to make federal programs more effective.