US Senator Bernie Sanders has announced he is running for president, launching a second bid for the White House after a surprisingly strong run for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Sanders, 77, made the announcement in a radio interview in his home state of Vermont on Tuesday.
“I am running for president for two reasons,” he said on Vermont Public Radio.
They are to oppose President Donald Trump, Sanders said, and to enact many of the ideas that he had championed in 2016, including universal healthcare and $15 minimum wage.
“I think the current occupant of the White House is an embarrassment to our country,” Sanders said.
“I think he is a pathological liar… I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants.”
In an email to supporters shortly after the announcement, Sanders said: “Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice”.
He also pledged to build a vast grassroots movement to confront the special interests that he said dominate government and politics.
With his announcement, Sanders joins an increasingly crowded field seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination to run against Trump next year.
The list already includes his fellow senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
Sanders made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2016, losing out to Hillary Clinton, who was in turn defeated by Trump.
The senator from Vermont launched his 2016 candidacy against Clinton as a long shot, but ended up capturing 23 state nominating contests and pushing the party to the left, generating tension between its establishment and liberal wings that has not entirely abated.
The primaries and caucuses that determine the party’s nominee for next year’s election will begin in February 2020 in Iowa.
Sanders served in the House until 2006 when he was elected to the US Senate. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2018.
While Sanders remains popular among many Democrats, some in the party have questioned whether their champion this time around should be a septuagenarian white man.