Trailing Bernie: Sanders casts himself as FDR 2.0

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Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is on the air in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire with two fresh television ads that continue to focus on his core economic message.

The 74-year-old democratic socialist is looking to reignite his insurgent campaign against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton by focusing on income inequality — even as many Americans have focused their attention on foreign policy following the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris. One of the new ads, titled “Works For All of Us,” calls for wage increases and pay equity.

“If you’re doing everything right but find it harder and harder to get by, you’re not alone. While our people work longer hours for lower wages, almost all new income goes to the top 1 percent. My plan: Make Wall Street banks and the ultra-rich pay their fair share of taxes. Provide living wages for working people. Ensure equal pay for women,” Sanders says in the ad.

The other, titled, “This is how it Works,” attacks one of his favorite targets — Wall Street.

“It’s called a rigged economy and this is how it works. Most new wealth flows to the top 1 percent. It’s a system held in place by corrupt politics where Wall Street banks and billionaires buy elections,” Sanders says. “My campaign is powered by over a million small contributions from people like you who want to fight back.”

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Sanders delivered, arguably, one of the most important speeches of his campaign so far on Thursday at Georgetown University. The speech was billed by the campaign as a chance for Sanders to explain democratic socialism to the public. His remarks were, essentially, a polished version of his campaign stump speech.

New, however, was Sanders’ call for the country to implement former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights” as a way to show that his own ideas are not radical. Outlined in FDR’s 1944 State of the Union Address, it calls for housing and health care for everyone, the right to an education, food, clothing and employment, and other rights.

By presenting himself as FDR version 2.0, Sanders could attract more independents and some wary Democrats who fear the socialist label that the candidate has embraced throughout his two decades in Congress.

Sanders also sought to boost his foreign policy bona fides by outlining a strategy to combat ISIS. To win the Democratic nomination, Sanders must rewrite the current narrative espoused by most pundits that Clinton is the superior candidate when it comes to foreign policy and security issues.

Sanders called for a new coalition to fight the terror group that includes members of the Arab League.

“Wealthy and powerful Muslim nations in the region can no longer sit on the sidelines and expect the United States to do their work for them,” Sanders said.

U.S. military force should be used as a last resort, the senator warned, noting the implications of the war in Iraq.

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While Sanders still trails Clinton by a wide margin in national polls, the campaign highlighted an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday that shows him gaining ground. Clinton leads by a 60 percent to 34 percent margin, but the gap has shrunk in the past month when she had a 39 point edge.

“There is overwhelming evidence from practically every public poll that Bernie Sanders is gaining ground and making progress in the Democratic primary,” Sanders’ pollster Ben Tolchin said in a statement. “In fact, he is doing better against Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama was doing against Clinton at this stage of the campaign.”

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