Former White House hopeful Sanders is seeking re-election at 82

Former White House hopeful Sanders is seeking re-election at 82

Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the longest-serving independent senator in U.S. history, said Monday he will seek a fourth term in an announcement touting his 16-year record and targeting U.S. military financing for Israel.

The 82-year-old son of Jewish immigrants – who describes himself as a “democratic socialist” and votes with the Democrats – called the November election “the most important” in generations.

The announcement cements Sanders, who is in a safe seat in Vermont, as the most high-profile Senate progressive as President Joe Biden fights for re-election against Republican Donald Trump, while leading a growing protest movement sparked by the war between Israel and Hamas.

Sanders has been a reliable Biden ally on most of the president’s domestic agenda.

But he has become a thorn in the government’s side due to the rising death toll from Israel’s response to the October 7 Hamas attacks. That attack seven months ago resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

“Israel had the absolute right to defend itself from this terrorist attack, but it did not and does not have the right to wage war against the entire Palestinian people, and that is exactly what it is doing,” Sanders said in his announcement.

The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Monday that at least 34,735 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory, including at least 52 deaths in the past 24 hours.

A wave of pro-Palestinian protests on American college campuses has been the latest front in a fierce global debate, as anger over civilian deaths has fueled complaints that demonstrations have sometimes turned into hatred of Jews.

Sanders, who suffered a heart attack during his 2020 presidential campaign, is the second-oldest senator, behind 90-year-old Republican Chuck Grassley.

He is almost certain to be re-elected by his liberal northeastern state, meaning he would be 89 years old at the end of a coming term.

A fringe figure for much of his career, Sanders saw his political fortunes rise when he twice campaigned to represent Democrats in the presidential elections on a platform of universal health care, fairer housing and low-cost colleges.

His participation in the 2016 primaries arguably caused fatal damage to his rival Hillary Clinton, who subsequently lost the election to Trump.

And his 2020 bid was cut short as the centrist Democratic establishment banded together in a coordinated effort to support Biden. (AFP)