Sanders to Launch 2020 Presidential Campaign With Brooklyn Event

The senator was born and grew up in the borough, and is expected to connect his working-class childhood to his populist political views

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference in Washington, January 16, 2019.
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Sen. Bernie Sanders will return to Brooklyn, the borough where he was born, to launch a presidential campaign that’s expected to connect his working-class childhood to his populist political views that have reshaped the Democratic Party.

Sanders, a Vermont independent and the runner-up in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, will speak Saturday morning from Brooklyn College, which he attended for a time.

Sanders launched his 2016 campaign from Vermont, the bucolic state that he has represented in the Senate for nearly two decades. But this time around, seeking to showcase more of his personal story, Sanders will first stop in Brooklyn, where he grew up as the son of a Jewish immigrant and lived in a rent-controlled apartment.

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Amid his calls for “Medicare-for-all,” a $15-an-hour minimum wage and addressing climate change, Sanders is expected to discuss his working-class roots and how his family’s financial struggles have shaped his populist political views. In those reflections is an implicit contrast to another New Yorker, President Donald Trump, a billionaire who hails from Queens. Sanders has been among the most vocal critics of Trump, calling him, a racist, a sexist and a xenophobe.

After Brooklyn, Sanders will travel to Selma, Alabama, where he will be among the politicians commemorating the anniversary of the 1965 clash known as “Bloody Sunday,” when peaceful demonstrators were beaten back by Alabama state troopers as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He’ll hold his second campaign rally in Chicago, where he attended the University of Chicago and was involved in civil rights protests.

Sanders had previously frustrated some aides and supporters with his reticence to share more of his personal story. But at the pair of weekend rallies, Sanders will shed light on how his childhood and his activism have informed the policies and ideas he’s championed.

Sanders joins the presidential race not as an outlier as he was in his campaign against Hillary Clinton but as one of the best-known candidates in a crowded field of Democrats. He also has a strong base of small-dollar donors: In the first week of his campaign, Sanders raised $10 million, far outpacing his rivals.

The political moment that he faces in his second bid, however, is far different than when he ran four years ago. A number of the liberal positions that Sanders has championed, in some cases for years, have been backed by other Democrats in the field, notably Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is campaigning with similar populist notes.