Speaking at a park in Burlington, Vermont, on Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders officially launched his presidential bid. The self-described Democratic socialist's campaign will focus on progressive issues like fighting climate change and big money in politics, as well as the 2016 hot topic, income inequality.
Though Sanders officially announced his candidacy in Washington, D.C. last month, Tuesday's event in his home state was when the political veteran formally kicked off his presidential campaign. Though actually an Independent lawmaker, Sanders has often caucused with Democrats.
Compared to the only other Democratic presidential contender, frontrunner and political powerhouse Hillary Clinton, Sanders' 2016 campaign is a long shot. But Sanders is likely used to that. His career in public office has essentially been characterized by long shot bids, having entered — and won — political races as an outsider.
His brutally honest, somewhat kooky ways are unusual for a politician, but it has earned him the loyalty of Vermont voters. In his last election in 2012, Sanders won 71 percent of the vote, Politico reported.
Most recently, his unconventionality was on display on his campaign website's 404 page. If users enter the wrong web address, instead of the typical blank page and a line informing them that the page they are looking for does not exist, a video of Sanders appears instead, telling users:
"The good news is you're on the right website, and it's a really good website. The bad news is, you're on the wrong page."
The website says, at the bottom, "Paid for by Bernie 2016 (not the billionaires)."
Sanders has already launched an offensive against Clinton, though it strikes as more in line with his blunt manner than a politically calculated attack. He told CNBC's John Harwood of his thoughts on big money's presence in politics (of which he is a vocal opponent), indicating that Clinton's wealth has left her out-of-touch:
"When you hustle money like that, you don't sit in restaurants like this. You sit in restaurants where you're spending — I don't know what they spend — hundreds of dollars for dinner and so forth. That's the world that you're accustomed to, and that's the world view that you adopt. You're not worrying about a kid three blocks away from here whose mom can't afford to feed him.
So yes, I think that can isolate you — that type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world."
To those more liberally-inclined, particularly young voters, Sanders is an exciting candidate in a race that, for the most part, is filled with political rhetoric and wealthy lawmakers.