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Apr 30, 2015 10:44 PM

Regarding Sanders bid, top NH Clinton official: 'We have been planning for primary competition'

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD – Bernie Sanders promises that “the folks of New Hampshire will see a lot of me.”

The independent U.S. senator from Vermont made that pledge in an interview with NH1 News, just hours after Sanders launched a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Watch Sanders' one-on-one interview with NH1 News

The two-term senator and former congressman and mayor of Burlington, Vermont described himself “as an independent running in the Democratic primary process, and that’s what I’ve done on a number of occasion in the state of Vermont. I am running right now to try and represent a disappearing middle class and I think the Democratic primary process is the most effective way to do that.”

Sanders joins Hillary Clinton in the hunt for the Democratic nomination. Polls indicate that the former secretary of state, who’s making her second bid for the White House, is the overwhelming frontrunner for the nomination. Clinton New Hampshire state director welcomes the competition from Sanders.

“We have been planning for primary competition from the get-go. Part of our early conversations with New Hampshire voters was that we intend to earn every vote and that we’re going to work very hard,” Mike Vlacich told NH1 News.

On some issues near and dear to the hearts of many Democratic primary voters, such as Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Keystone XL Pipeline, Sanders runs to the left of Clinton. Asked if he’s trying to be the progressive alternative to Clinton, Sanders bristled, saying that “I’m not trying to be anything. I am probably the most progressive member of the United States Senate.”

And another progressive, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, is expected to soon launch a Democratic presidential campaign. But Vlacich said he’s not concerned about the left flank in the Granite State.

“Well they’re all friends of Hillary’s and we agree on more issues than we disagree on first off. Secondly we have a lot of support from a lot of quarters of New Hampshire life, progressives are a good part of that,” Vlacich told NH1 News.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Sanders said the Clinton Foundation donations controversy was “a fair issue.”

Later, in his NH1 News interview, Sanders added that “it’s an issue that should be discussed. But the issue ties into the more important issue and the broader issue of money in politics. Probably the most important crisis facing our country is that we are losing the foundations of American democracy. We are moving as a result of Citizens United to a political situation where billionaires are able to spend unlimited sums of money to buy candidates and elections. That’s not what American democracy is about.”

Asked if the donations story is becoming a distraction to first-in-the-nation primary state voters, Vlacich responded that “If you look at the Clinton Foundation’s work, that’s a non-political charity that’s done so much good for so many people. A lot of the information that people are focusing on right now is based on information that the Foundation has gone above and beyond to provide. And there will be time for more conversations but the reality is that we’re focusing on the issues that matter here in New Hampshire. We’ve seen consistently throughout the years in New Hampshire that they’re focused on issues like jobs and the economy and that’s what they care about and that’s what we’re going to keep working on.”

As for his pledge to New Hampshire voters, Sanders doesn’t appear to be kidding. He returns to the Granite State on Saturday, headlining a house party in Manchester and a AFl-CIO gathering in North Conway.


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