Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is only seven points behind Hillary Clinton in Iowa in a recent Des Moines/Bloomberg Register poll and some wonder if Sanders’ campaign style is making the socialist label less scary.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, took a shot at Sanders’ political theology while campaigning in the Vermont senator’s neck of the woods Wednesday. CNN’s Ashley Killough tweeted, “When he was in VT, Rand Paul says ‘everyone was like ‘isn’t it so cool that Bernie Sanders is a socialist?’…Socialism isn’t cool.’”
A recent Gallup poll shows that more Americans would vote for a Muslim or an atheist for the president than they would a socialist. Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist. National Public Radio reports that Sanders does not use the word “socialist” to describe himself while on the campaign trail.
“You have known me for a few years. Do I go around saying, ‘Hey Bob, I am the self-avowed socialist?’ You know, it’s what media does,” Sanders told VPR’s Bob Kinzel.
He added, “What am I trying to do in this campaign is to tell Americans what many of them don’t know: that the benefits for working people are a lot, lot stronger in many other countries around the world.”
Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Clinton supporter, told CNN of the socialist label, “I think the question that some of us have is can someone who has said, ‘I’m not a Democrat,’ has chosen the title of socialist, is that person really electable?”
Garrison Nelson, a professor of political science at the University of Vermont told NPR, that Sanders expressed that his brand of socialism is “relatively mild, I would say a vanilla socialism.”
In the meantime, the 73-year old is attracting young voters as well as celebrity activists. He will be a guest on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” later this month.