Sanders making second trip to NH in less than two months, fueling 2020 speculation

  • Bernie Sanders speaks at a Labor Day rally hosted by progressive group Rights and Democracy New Hampshire in Concord’s Rollins Park. Paul Steinhauser / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Published: 10/16/2017 12:51:44 PM

Bernie Sanders is coming back to New Hampshire.

The longtime independent senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate will headline the Strafford County Democrats’ Fall Celebration this Sunday at the American Legion Hall in Rollinsford.

The visit by Sanders will be his second to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state in less than two months. Sanders gave the keynote address in Manchester at the annual New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast, which was the fourth straight year he headlined the large labor gathering. Later that day, Sanders was also the main attraction at a rally hosted by progressive group Rights and Democracy New Hampshire held in Concord’s Rollins Park.

Sanders’s Labor Day visit to the Granite State came just four days after a book tour stop in Iowa, which traditionally holds the first caucus in the race for the White House.

Sanders crushed eventual Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire’s February 2016 Democratic presidential primary, launching him toward a long and bitter battle with Clinton for the nomination. Sanders eventually endorsed Clinton in July at a large rally in Portsmouth.

A statement from his political committee said that Sanders will use Sunday’s speech to highlight many of his top issues, including the fight to save the federal health care law, the push for his Medicare-for-all single-payer health care plan, and a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

The committee added that Sanders “will also talk about the importance of electing local candidates in Strafford County, and throughout the country, who share our progressive vision for the future.”

When he visited the Granite State last month, Sanders made no mention of any future presidential ambitions he may still harbor, and he criticized reporters for continuing to ask him if he’s going to run in 2020.

But stops in early presidential primary and caucus states like New Hampshire and Iowa increase speculation that he’ll run again.

While Sanders first faces re-election for his Senate seat next year and hasn’t publicly said if he’ll make another White House bid, he’s not closing any doors to another presidential campaign.

“It’s a no-lose situation for Sanders to continue to visit,” said University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala, a close observer of the New Hampshire presidential primary. “Even if he has no intention of running in 2020, every time he crosses the New Hampshire border, he automatically will get media coverage for the issues he wishes to discuss, as long as the presidency remains an open question for him.”

Sanders is far from the only potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to pay a visit to New Hampshire so far this year. That list includes former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander, the founder and president of Let America Vote, a newly-created voting rights organization. Kander has made five trips to New Hampshire. Former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley has been to the state three times.

Other possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders who have already visited New Hampshire this year are former vice president Joe Biden, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Congressman John Delaney of Maryland (who has already announced he’ll run for the 2020 nomination) and Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, who will return to the Granite State early next month to headline a Manchester City Democrats event.

The venue for Sanders’s speech on Sunday should seem familiar to the senator. He held a presidential campaign rally at the Rollinsford American Legion in September 2015.

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