POLITICS

Bernie Sanders Ran For Office While On Unemployment

05/29/2015 04:48 pm ET | Updated May 29, 2015
Win McNamee via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- Bernie Sanders has already raised millions of dollars for his 2016 presidential campaign. In 1974, he ran for office on unemployment benefits.

A profile of Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) by Mother Jones reporter Tim Murphy this week looked at Sanders' humble beginnings in politics. In 1974, Sanders ran for the U.S. Senate on an antiwar Liberty Union Party ticket -- one of his four failed attempts to win elected office before he became the mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

A story in the Bennington Banner that September described Sanders' "hopeless" campaign:

"Sanders, 32, cares little what 'image' he conveys -- and that's part of his image of being a bit rumpled and unshorn. He's on unemployment compensation right now, having worked for the Bread & Law Task Force, as a free-lance writer, and as a carpenter in the Burlington area. But the thing he likes best, and excels at, is 'talking the issues,' and he doesn't mind repeating himself sometimes."

Two prime issues for Sanders at the time were utility rate increases and the Rockefeller fortune's role in running the U.S. government. Today, Sanders is running a similarly quixotic campaign: Murphy noted that you could replace "Rockefeller" with "Koch" and Sanders' Liberty Union speeches don't sound dated.

Sanders may be the only former unemployment insurance claimant to mount a serious presidential run. Other presidential candidates, such as Barack Obama and Dr. Ben Carson, benefited from food stamps when they were little.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney joked that he was unemployed during the 2012 presidential campaign.

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