Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) announced Friday that he will decide by March if he will enter the 2016 presidential race—and whether he'll run on a Democrat or Independent platform.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Sanders said his nomination would be more than a political game. "I don't want to do it unless I can do it well," he said. "I don't want to do it unless we can win this thing."
Sanders said he would make a "gut decision" about running and acknowledged that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton would be his primary opponent.
Although Sanders is a socialist, his views on many issues regularly align with Senate Democrats. Still, he has criticized his colleagues in the past for their weaker approach to issues he sees as particularly dire, such as the income inequality, climate change, and campaign finance reform.
In an interview with C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program in November, Sanders attributed the Republican midterm sweep of the Senate to lackluster campaigns on the Democrat side, stating, "I think many of the Democratic candidates did not run on an agenda which resonated with working people."
On Friday, he reiterated that point, telling the AP, "You have one family, the Walton family of Walmart, owning more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people. We have 95 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent. You have millions of families unable to afford to send their kids to college. People are desperately worried about whether or not they are going to retire with dignity."
The growing wealth gap has led to a "collapsing" middle class, he said.
Sanders has a 12-step plan that he says will restore the economy and especially the middle class, most of it dependent on higher taxes on the rich and corporations. Among the proposals: A $1 trillion infrastructure building program that would "create 13 million decent-paying jobs," more worker-friendly international trade deals and legislation to strengthen unions, and transforming the U.S. energy system "away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy."
Tad Devine, a political consultant and former employee of Sanders', told the AP, "Even the majority of Republicans believe that the deck is stacked against the people in this country. That's exactly what Bernie has been talking about for a long time."