Sanders, who changed his party registration to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and then changed it back to independent after he was unsuccessful, told the Monitor that he will not become a Democrat again as many in the party had hoped.
“I am an independent, and I have always run in Vermont as an independent, while I caucus with the Democrats in the United States Senate,” Sanders said. “That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”
The Monitor reports that Sanders’ trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire last week sparked “more speculation that he just may run again for the White House in 2020.”
“While running as an independent next year doesn’t prevent Sanders from making another bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, pundits said running as a Democrat in 2018 may have been a signal of his 2020 intentions,” the Monitor’s Paul Steinhauser wrote.
Sanders, 76, won his reelection for his second term in the Senate with 71 percent of the vote in 2012.
The Senate Democrats appointed him to the leadership team last year despite the fact that he is not registered as a Democrat.
Sanders’ visit to New Hampshire was his second in two months and he used the trip to highlight his single-payer healthcare bill that he introduced last month.
“It seems clear to me that we have one system that works well, and that’s called Medicare. Now is the time to expand Medicare for all and create a single-payer health care system,” Sanders said at the American Legion hall in Rollinsford.
He noted that last time he introduced the legislation, “I had one co-sponsor. Me. This time around we have 16 co-sponsors.”
But Sanders’ speech was about more than just healthcare as he covered what could be considered a presidential platform of topics.
Sanders vowed that Democrats will defeat the “moral obscenity” that is the Republican tax cut proposal, “just as we were able to defeat their efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act and throw some 30 million people off health insurance.”
Sanders went on to call for tuition-free universities, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, cutting gender pay inequality, creating “decent-paying union jobs,” and overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
“These are not radical ideas,” he said, adding that “our job is to get people to move beyond the ugly 30-second ads and talk about the issues.”
Sanders handily defeated Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary 60-38 last year.
According to a University of New Hampshire poll, 31 percent of likely primary voters already back the 76-year-old despite a long list of 2020 Democratic hopefuls. The poll also had former Vice President Joe Biden at 24 percent and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at 13 percent.
Another nine potential Democratic candidates combined for 17 percent, with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker leading the way with 6 percent.
It’s worth noting that the eventual winners of the 2016 New Hampshire primaries, Sanders and Donald Trump, were not even included on any New Hampshire polls this far out of the primaries.