Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) took pride Tuesday morning in how far left the Democratic Party has shifted toward his socialist policies, remarking how many of his once extreme views are now mainstream.
Sanders, who earlier Tuesday announced his candidacy in the 2020 presidential race, told "CBS This Morning" co-host John Dickerson that he was "very proud" of the party's lurch to the left. He argued that what sets him apart from the crowded field vying for the Democratic nomination for president is not his policy platform, but his role in creating the platforms of the other candidates.
Sanders pointed out that when he ran for president 2016, he was viewed as a fringe candidate.
"In 2016, many of the ideas that I talked about – ‘Medicare for all,' raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition-free – all of those ideas people said [were so radical]," he said.
"‘Oh Bernie, they're so radical, they are extreme, the American people just won't accept those ideas,'" he recalled critics saying.
Sanders, a self-described socialist, proved a grassroots juggernaut during the 2016 Democratic primaries, raising millions of dollars in online donations and winning 23 primary contests. He lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton.
The newly announced 2020 candidate celebrated how his ideas are now setting the bar for the Democratic Party.
"Well you know what's happened in over three years?" he asked Dickerson. "All of those ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream."
Sanders is running against a number of Democratic senators, many of whom have rushed to endorse his proposals. Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.), and others support "Medicare for all," which the libertarian Mercatus Center pegs at $32 trillion. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), along with Harris and Booker, support the Green New Deal, a multi-trillion dollar economic stimulus proposal to eliminate U.S. reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, all while also addressing economic equality. Although, Klobuchar appeared to temper her support last week for the progressive resolution, calling it "aspirational."
When asked if he agreed the Democratic Party had moved his way, Sanders said he didn't "want to say that" but agreed "most people" would say as much.