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Bernie Sanders will announce by March whether he'll run for president in 2016

Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call Group

  1. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has been weighing a presidential bid in 2016.
  2. According to a new report by Dave Gram of the Associated Press, he'll make up his mind by March.
  3. As he is not officially a Democrat, if Sanders does decide on a run, he'll also have to choose whether to run for the Democratic nomination or as an independent.

At a September town hall event in Waterloo, Iowa that I attended, Sanders laid out his thinking on that question:

...An audience member broached the question of whether he might run as an independent or a Democrat. "That's a great question!" Sanders said, animated. "I'd love to get your opinions on it." He laid out his thinking to the crowd. An independent candidacy could be appealing because of "huge frustration at both parties," but it's very difficult to get on the ballot in 50 states. And he emphasized that he would never run as a spoiler if it could lead to the election of a Republican president - "we've made that mistake in the past." On the other hand, if he ran as a Democrat, "It's easier to get on the ballot, you can get into the debates, and the media will take you more seriously." The disadvantage? "People are not overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the Democratic Party."

Sanders asked the crowd which sounded better, and about 80 percent of them raised their hands in favor of a primary contest. "I think you run as a Democrat, because you want to push the debate, with Hillary or whoever it is, in the direction you want to see it go," an audience member said. "We need to hear the establishment challenged." Sanders then asked the crowd another question. "I know Iowa does politics differently than other states," he said, to knowing chuckles. "How many of you would be prepared to work hard if I ran?" A sizable majority raised their hands again.

Read more in my feature, "Bernie Sanders vs. the billionaires."

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