“I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first,” Sanders told VPR’s Bob Kinzel on Tuesday.
He also made the announcement in an email to supporters later that morning.
“I have decided to run for president of the United States,” Sanders wrote in a version of the email provided to HuffPost on Monday. “I am asking you today to join me as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign.”
The independent senator, who caucuses with the Democrats and battled Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, had long hinted he would make another run but said that he would step aside if a better candidate came forward to defeat President Donald Trump.
Tuesday morning, it was clear Sanders has decided he is the best person for the job.
“Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for,” he wrote.
Asked what would be different from his 2016 run during an interview on “CBS This Morning” that aired Tuesday morning, Sanders said: “We’re going to win.”
“It is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated because I think it is unacceptable and un-American — to be frank with you — that we have a president who is a pathological liar, and it gives me no pleasure to say that, but it’s true,” he said. “We have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe.”
He promised that his second presidential bid would be a “continuation of what we did in 2016,” noting that many of his progressive policy proposals “are now part of the political mainstream.”
Sanders has long been known as one of the most progressive members of the Senate. A self-described democratic socialist, his platform calls for “Medicare for all” and a $15 minimum wage. He has also advocated for free tuition at public colleges and universities, lowering the costs of prescription drugs and placing heightened attention on climate change.
In his email, Sanders directly credited his supporters with shifting the Democratic Party toward a more progressive message since the 2016 election.
“Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were ‘radical,’ and ‘extreme,’” he wrote. “We were told that Medicare for All, a $15 an hour minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges and universities, aggressively combating climate change, demanding that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes, were all concepts that the American people would never accept.”
“Well, three years have come and gone,” he continued. “And, as a result of millions of Americans standing up and fighting back, all of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans.”
Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for Trump’s re-election campaign, also noted Sanders’ influence on the Democratic Party in a statement.
“Bernie Sanders has already won the debate in the Democrat primary, because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism,” McEnany said in part.
Sanders won re-election to the Senate for a third term in November, taking more than 67 percent of the vote. That same month, he said he was considering a second White House run, but he told panelists on ABC’s “The View” that his primary objective was to defeat Trump, even if that meant the Democrats ran someone else.
“There are other great candidates out there, many of them personal friends of mine,” Sanders said during the November interview. “But what I think is most important right now is that Trump be defeated ... and that we as a nation come together respectfully.”
He took a slightly different tone on Tuesday. Though Sanders did call Trump a “racist” and “pathological liar” who was leading the country in an “an authoritarian direction,” he also made clear his campaign would stand for more than just stopping the president.
“Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. It is not only about winning the Democratic nomination and the general election,” Sanders wrote. ”Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”
Sanders took shots at Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry and Amazon in his email, and he said the country needed to end voter suppression, the “epidemic of gun violence,” “the destructive ’war on drugs,’” the “demonization of undocumented immigrants” and “racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry and all forms of discrimination.”
When he first announced he would run for president in 2015, Sanders was scoffed at as a fringe candidate. By the end, Sanders had proved to be a national political force, amassing an army of loyal followers and unprecedented amounts of small-donor fundraising money. When all was said and done, he had won more than 1,800 delegates.
In recent months, that same campaign has faced criticism, however, after two dozen women came forward with allegations that they were subjected to harassment or discrimination by members of Sanders’ team. The senator issued a public apology to those who experienced such harassment and thanked them for speaking out.
“What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about,” he said in a Jan. 10 statement.
The Harvard Harris poll, which releases its findings monthly, has repeatedly named him the most popular active politician in the country. Poll results from both January and December placed him among the three most favored political figures in the country, just behind former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also eyeing a presidential run.
In his email, Sanders asked for people to sign their support. His campaign hopes to receive 1 million signatures through Tuesday’s request for support.
“They may have the money and power. We have the people. That is why we need one million Americans who will commit themselves to this campaign,” he wrote. “Stand with me as we fight to win the Democratic nomination and the general election.”
Here is the entire email sent to Sanders’ supporters Tuesday morning:
Brothers and Sisters―
I am writing to let you know I have decided to run for president of the United States. I am asking you today to join me as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least a million people from across the country.
Please join our campaign for president on day one and commit to doing what it takes to win this election.
Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. It is not only about winning the Democratic nomination and the general election.
Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.
Our campaign is about taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life. I’m talking about Wall Street, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the military-industrial complex, the private-prison industry and the large multi-national corporations that exert such an enormous influence over our lives.
Our campaign is about redoubling our efforts to end racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry and all forms of discrimination.
Our campaign is about creating a vibrant democracy with the highest voter turnout of any major country while we end voter suppression, Citizens United and outrageous levels of gerrymandering.
Our campaign is about creating a government and economy that works for the many, not just the few. We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. We should not have grotesque levels of wealth inequality in which three billionaires own more wealth than the bottom half of the country.
We should not have 30 million Americans without any health insurance, even more who are under-insured and a nation in which life expectancy is actually in decline.
We should not have an economy in which tens of millions of workers earn starvation wages and half of older workers have no savings as they face retirement.
We should not have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth and a dysfunctional childcare system which is unfair to both working parents and their children.
We should not have a regressive tax system in which large, profitable corporations like Amazon pay nothing in federal income taxes.
Make no mistake about it. The powerful special interests in this country have unbelievable power and they want to maintain the status quo. They have unlimited amounts of money to spend on campaigns and lobbying and have huge influence over the media and political parties.
The only way we will win this election and create a government and economy that works for all is with a grassroots movement – the likes of which has never been seen in American history.
They may have the money and power. We have the people. That is why we need one million Americans who will commit themselves to this campaign.
Stand with me as we fight to win the Democratic nomination and the general election. Add your name to join this campaign and say you are willing to do the hard work necessary to transform our country.
You know as well as I do that we are living in a pivotal and dangerous moment in American history. We are running against a president who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction.
I’m running for president because, now more than ever, we need leadership that brings us together – not divides us up. Women and men, black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, young and old, native born and immigrant. Now is the time for us to stand together.
I’m running for president because we need leadership that will fight for working families and the shrinking middle class, not just the 1 percent. We need a president who understands that we can create millions of good-paying jobs, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and construct the affordable housing we desperately need.
I’m running for president because we need trade policies that reflect the interests of workers and not multi-national corporations. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, provide pay equity for women and guarantee all workers paid family and medical leave.
I’m running for president because we need to understand that artificial intelligence and robotics must benefit the needs of workers, not just corporate America and those who own that technology.
I’m running for president because a great nation is judged not by how many billionaires and nuclear weapons it has, but by how it treats the most vulnerable – the elderly, the children, our veterans, the sick and the poor.
I’m running for president because we need to make policy decisions based on science, not politics. We need a president who understands that climate change is real, is an existential threat to our country and the entire planet, and that we can generate massive job creation by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
I’m running for president because the time is long overdue for the United States to join every other major country on Earth and guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all program.
I’m running for president because we need to take on the outrageous level of greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices in this country.
I’m running for president because we need to have the best educated workforce in the world. It is totally counter-productive for our future that millions of Americans are carrying outrageous levels of student debt, while many others cannot afford the high cost of higher education. That is why we need to make public colleges and universities tuition free and lower student debt.
I’m running for president because we must defend a woman’s right to control her own body against massive political attacks taking place at the local state and federal level.
I’m running for president because we need real criminal justice reform. We need to invest in jobs and education for our kids, not more jails and incarceration. We need to end the destructive “war on drugs,” eliminate private prisons and cash bail and bring about major police department reform.
I’m running for president because we need to end the demonization of undocumented immigrants in this country and move to comprehensive immigration reform. We need to provide immediate legal status for the young people eligible for the DACA program and develop a humane policy for those at the border who seek asylum.
I’m running for president because we must end the epidemic of gun violence in this country. We need to take on the NRA, expand background checks, end the gun show loophole and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons.
I’m running for president because we need a foreign policy which focuses on democracy, human rights, diplomacy and world peace. The United States must lead the world in improving international cooperation in the fight against climate change, militarism, authoritarianism and global wealth inequality.
That is why we need at least a million people to join our campaign and help lead the movement that can accomplish these goals. Add your name to say we’re in this together.
Needless to say, there is a lot of frightening and bad news in this world. Now, let me give you some very good news.
Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were “radical,” and “extreme.” We were told that Medicare for All, a $15 an hour minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges and universities, aggressively combating climate change, demanding that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes, were all of concepts that the American people would never accept.
Well, three years have come and gone. And, as result of millions of Americans standing up and fighting back, all of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans.
Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for.
So here is my question for you:
Will you stand with me as part of a million person grassroots movement which can not only win the Democratic primary, not only win the general election but most importantly help transform this country so that, finally, we have a government that works for all of us and not just the few? Add your name to say you will.
Together we can create a nation that leads the world in the struggle for peace and for economic, racial, social and environmental justice.
And together we can defeat Donald Trump and repair the damage he has done to our country.
Brothers and sisters, if we stand together, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
I hope you will join me.
Thank you very much.
This article has been updated to include Sanders’ email message and comments from his CBS interview.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.