Bernie Sanders explains how at 77 he expects to lead a diverse, young Democratic revolution

Stephanie Keith/Getty ImagesSen. Bernie Sanders is running for president again in 2020, and he’s already facing questions about his age.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders is running for president again in 2020.
  • Sanders confirmed his plans to run to Vermont Public Radio early Tuesday morning.
  • The Vermont senator was asked whether he’s still the right person to be the “face of the new Democratic Party” even though he’s older and facing a diverse field of candidates.
  • Sanders, 77, said he still had a lot of energy and hoped voters would look at the “totality of who I am.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday announced he’s joining a crowded, diverse field of Democratic candidates for president in 2020.

Sanders confirmed his plans to run to Vermont Public Radio early Tuesday morning.

“I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first,” Sanders told VPR. “And what I promise to do is, as I go around the country, is to take the values that all of us in Vermont are proud of – a belief in justice, in community, in grassroots politics, in town meetings – that’s what I’m going to carry all over this country.”

During the interview, Sanders was asked whether he’s a sound choice to be the “face of the new Democratic Party” given his age and other factors. Sanders is 77, and if elected in 2020, at 79, he would be the oldest president in US history.

“We saw in the 2018 election that Democrats were able to elect a lot of younger and more diverse candidates to the US House,” VPR’s Bob Kinzel said. “So, what do you say to those people who argue that an older candidate like yourself really isn’t the face of the new Democratic Party?”

Read more:
Bernie Sanders announces he’s running for president again in 2020

“We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the colour of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender, and not by their age,” Sanders said in response. “I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a nondiscriminatory society, which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.

“I have been very blessed in my life with good health,” Sanders continued, adding: “I’m very lucky that as a kid I was a long-distance runner, and I think I had and still have a great deal of energy. So I would ask people to look at the totality of who I am – my energy level, my record in the US Senate – and not just at one criterion.”

In an October interview with Politico, Sanders said his age would “obviously” be a “factor” if he decided to hop in the 2020 race.

“It’s part of a discussion, but it has to be part of an overall view of what somebody is and what somebody has accomplished,” Sanders said at the time. “Look, you’ve got people who are 50 years of age who are not well, right? You’ve got people who are 90 years of age who are going to work every day doing excellent work. And obviously, age is a factor. But it depends on the overall health and well being of the individual.”

Sanders on Tuesday told VPR he’s running for president again, after a notable but ultimately unsuccessful 2016 campaign, primarily for two reasons: to oppose President Donald Trump and to continue the movement focused on a progressive agenda he started three years ago.

“I think the current occupant of the White House is an embarrassment to our country,” Sanders said. “I think he is a pathological liar – every day, he is telling one lie or another.

“And it gives me no pleasure to say that, but I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants.”

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