Bernie Sanders made waves as a presidential candidate in 2016 — with supporters backing the Vermont senator’s call for a “political revolution” and repeating the popular campaign phrase “Feel The Bern.”
And though Hillary Clinton ultimately defeated him to become the Democratic party’s nominee, the 77-year-old is making quite a comeback.
Sanders has already hauled in a whopping $18.2 million since launching his 2020 campaign in February, surpassing his 2016 numbers. He appears to be miles ahead of his competitors, making at least $6 million more than his closest fundraising opponent, California Sen. Kamala Harris, who has pulled in at least $12 million in donations.
Sanders will join Fox News Channel for a Town Hall co-anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum on Monday, April 15, at 6:30 p.m. ET in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Name recognition has apparently worked in Sanders’ favor this time around.
His name remains on the top of polls, typically behind former Vice President Joe Biden who has stayed silent about his 2020 plans thus far. In an early March Monmouth poll, Sanders sat just 3 percentage points behind Biden. Weeks later, in a Fox News poll, Democratic primary voters once again voted him as their second choice — with Biden at 31 percent and Sanders at 23 percent.
Before Sanders discusses his political record, economic policies and ideas on stage during Fox News’ Town Hall next Monday, take a look at five fast facts to know about the self-described Democratic socialist.
He’s the longest-serving Independent member of Congress in U.S. history
Sanders has served as Vermont’s senator since 2007. Before that, he spent 16 years as a lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives. His combined years of service in the government makes him the longest-serving Independent member of Congress ever, according to his official bio.
His political career kickstarted in 1981 when he was elected mayor of Burlington by just 10 votes. Sanders often points to his narrow mayoral victory as an example that every vote counts.
“In 1981, I won my first election to become Mayor of Burlington by 10 votes. Please remember that every vote matters and you can make a real difference in shaping our nation’s future,” tweeted Sanders in October 2018 ahead of the midterm elections.
He was mayor for roughly eight years before stepping down to gain a seat in the House in 1991.
He was the first non-Christian candidate to win a presidential primary
Though he didn’t publicly discuss this historic moment, many pointed out in 2016 that Sanders was the first non-Christian to win a presidential primary.
Sanders, who is Jewish, has said in the past that his spiritual nature has encouraged him to seek office.
“I believe that there is a connection between all living things and that my belief in God requires me to do all that I can to follow the ‘Golden Rule,’ to do unto others and as I would have them do unto me,” he once said, according to USA Today. “As a public servant, it requires me to do all that I can to ensure that every person lives with dignity and security.”
He once worked as a carpenter, writer
According to his Congressional biography, Sanders once worked as a carpenter and journalist before trying his hand at politics.
After spending time in Israel, the Brooklyn native moved to Vermont, taking on various jobs including carpentry, filmmaking and freelance writing.
“His carpentry was not going to support him, and didn’t,” Denny Morrisseau, a Liberty Union member in the early 1970s, told Politico in 2015.
He didn’t make a decent living off his writing either. He submitted articles to local newspapers including the Vermont Freeman and Vermont Life, among others, the publication states.
He was first to propose “Medicare for All”
The “Medicare for All” bill was first introduced in 2016 by Sanders, who said it would be another step toward achieving universal health care.
“Medicare for All” is a single-payer health insurance plan that would require all U.S. residents to be covered with no copays and deductibles for medical services. The insurance industry would be regulated to play a minor role in the system.
“[Sanders’] plan will cover the entire continuum of health care, from inpatient to outpatient care; preventive to emergency care; primary care to specialty care, including long-term and palliative care; vision, hearing and oral health care; mental health and substance abuse services; as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies, diagnostics and treatments,” Sanders’ old campaign website explained. “Patients will be able to choose a health care provider without worrying about whether that provider is in-network and will be able to get the care they need without having to read any fine print or trying to figure out how they can afford the out-of-pocket costs.”
The phrase “for all” doesn’t mean the plan would instantly give every American insurance. It would be slowly extended to citizens (from older to younger) over a period of four years, NPR reports.
You can read more about the plan here.
He’s had several failed campaigns
His defeat for the 2016 Democratic bid was perhaps his most notable campaign fail in recent history — but that’s not the only time Sanders has faced a political loss.
He also had unsuccessful Independent runs for U.S. Senate in 1972 and 1974, according to his Congressional bio. And he lost the election for governor of Vermont in 1972, 1976 and 1986.