Global Economy

Bernie Sanders hits 2020 trail with a return to Brooklyn roots


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

By John Whitesides

(Reuters) – Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders will hit the 2020 campaign trail for the first time on Saturday with a rally in his native Brooklyn, New York, giving his supporters a rare glimpse into his past and how it helped shape his views.

The U.S. senator from Vermont, who fell short in a 2016 White House bid but launched a second try last week, will appear at Brooklyn College, where he attended classes, near the New York City neighbourhood where he grew up in a small, rent-controlled apartment.

On Sunday, Sanders will hold at a rally at Navy Pier in Chicago, where he graduated from the University of Chicago at the height of the civil rights movement and helped lead student protests against segregated campus housing and schools.

The two rallies, his campaign said, will give Sanders a chance to talk about how those life experiences influenced his outlook and informed his progressive politics. On Sunday morning, Sanders also will make a quick stop in Selma, Alabama, for events commemorating the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march.

Sanders, the son of a Jewish immigrant from Poland, rarely talked about his personal history during the 2016 White House campaign against eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, focusing almost exclusively on his progressive policy plans to rein in Wall Street and reduce income inequality.

But the rallies will let him begin to fill out his public image, a recognition of the need to expand his base of support in a 2020 Democratic presidential campaign that already includes a crowded and diverse field of contenders, including five of his fellow senators.

The rallies also will serve as a reminder to Democrats of his ability to generate enthusiasm. During his 2016 campaign, Sanders frequently held big rallies with tens of thousands of supporters, matching Republican Donald Trump’s ability to capture attention and generate large crowds.

Sanders already has shown his fundraising ability this time around, as the campaign said on Tuesday he had raised about $10 million in the first week. But three of his top media strategists during the 2016 campaign split with Sanders this week over creative differences.

Over the next few weeks, his campaign said, Sanders will travel to states with early nominating contests, including Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

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