‘I am back,’ Bernie Sanders tells supporters at NYC rally

Less than three weeks ago he had a heart attack that threatened both his life and political future.

By Steve Peoples / Associated Press

NEW YORK — Storming past questions about his health, Bernie Sanders vowed that he’s “more ready than ever” to fight for a political revolution — with a little help from new friends — at a rally Saturday that drew thousands to a New York City park. The rally offered a pointed reminder to skeptics in both political parties that the 78-year-old democratic socialist is still very much a force in the 2020 presidential race.

Sanders opened his remarks by apologizing that he secured a permit for only 20,000 people. His campaign, he said, was forced to close the gates on many more people who were trying to enter the Queens park just across the river from Manhattan.

“To put it bluntly, I am back,” Sanders declared, sparking chants of, “Bernie is back” from the massive crowd.

“I am happy to report to you that I am more than ready — more ready than ever — to carry on with you on the epic struggle that we face today,” he added. “I am more than ready to assume the office of president of the United States.”

The event marked Sanders’ formal return to the campaign trail less than three weeks after he suffered a heart attack that threatened both his life and political future. Even before that, he was in danger of falling out of the top-tier in the 2020 Democratic primary field. Polls suggest he’s lagging behind liberal rival Elizabeth Warren and establishment favorite Joe Biden.

But the fiery Brooklyn native, backed by a slate of new endorsements and two new stents in an artery connected to his heart, appeared to be expanding his coalition on Saturday.

A security company hired by the campaign reported a crowd estimate of 25,000. Among those speaking, filmmaker and activist Michael Moore told the cheering crowd that he was endorsing Sanders, shortly before Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., praised the Vermont senator on stage.

“Bernie Sanders fought for me,” Ocasio-Cortez said as she introduced Sanders.

She heaped praise on the Vermont senator but did not explicitly say that she was endorsing him. The Sanders campaign announced earlier in the week that she had.

Before the rally, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said endorsements this past week from Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in particular were proof that the Sanders campaign is growing. He predicted that they would especially help Sanders strengthen his support among young, minority voters.

“Those are two people who I think have immense power to mobilize young people, and I promise you you’ll be seeing them in Iowa, but not only in Iowa, but around the country, trying to get people engaged around the issues,” Shakir said.

For now, at least, Sanders can use the help.

While he insists he’s ready to move forward, he’s doing so cautiously. Saturday’s rally was his only scheduled appearance before he returns to Iowa late in the coming week.

The week after, he’ll join Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for a tour of her congressional district. Tlaib hasn’t announced whether she’ll endorse Sanders, but she is part of the same small “squad” of minority women on Capitol Hill who gave been a target of President Donald Trump.

Despite the aggressive rhetoric from Sanders himself, senior adviser Jeff Weaver said Sanders would ease himself back onto the campaign trail. But by December, he predicted, Sanders health scare will be forgotten.

Almost all the speakers during Saturday’s event, which spanned several hours on a sunny, crisp fall afternoon, played down the health concerns.

“The only heart attack we should be talking about is the one Wall Street is going to have when Bernie Sanders is president,” said Moore, the filmmaker.

Nina Turner, one of Sanders’ national co-chairs, said it “boggles my mind” that Sanders’ critics have embraced “ageism.”

“Life happens to us all,” she said.

“Memo to the haters: hashtag Bernie Is Back,” she added. “We never went anywhere, we just pushed pause for a minute.”

Talk to us

More in Nation-World

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden joined by Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the The Queen theater Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Biden on cusp of presidency after gains in Pennsylvania

Trump is testing his presidential powers in undermining America’s confidence in the vote.

Republican candidate for Senate Sen. David Perdue speaks during a campaign stop at Peachtree Dekalb Airport Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta. The outcome in several contested states will determine whether Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump. But if the Democratic challenger wins, the ambitions of a Biden presidency could well come down to Georgia. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Twin Senate runoffs in Georgia could shape Biden presidency

Should Democrats win them, Biden would would increase his chances for passing legislation.

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 20, 2017 file photo a Boing 737 MAX 9 airplane performs a demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show, in Le Bourget, east of Paris, France. Europe’s aviation regulator has taken a step closer to letting the Boeing 737 Max fly again. It published a proposed airworthiness directive on Tuesday that could see it clear the aircraft within weeks to resume flying after nearly two years and a pair of deadly crashes. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, file)
European regulator moves to clear Boeing 737 for flight

The move comes after the FAA already cleared the Boeing 737 Max earlier this month.

FILE - This May 5, 2019, file photo shows Alex Trebek gestures while presenting an award at the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, Calif. Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years. Trebek died at home with family and friends surrounding him, “Jeopardy!” studio Sony said in a statement. Trebek presided over the beloved quiz show for more than 30 years. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
Alex Trebek, ‘Jeopardy’ host and trivia master, has died at 80

He had suffered a series of medical complications in recent years, and died at his home.

Weekly COVID-19 infections in nursing homes in 20 states have been rising since May. (AP Graphic)
Nursing home COVID-19 cases rise four-fold in surge states

Resident deaths more than doubled, according to study by University of Chicago health researchers.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to supporters, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The vote is in: Joe Biden to become 46th president of U.S.

The victory comes after days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes.

People demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol to urge that all votes be counted, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa., following Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Biden pushes closer to victory in race for the White House

To win, Trump would need to win Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada.

FILE—John Hickenlooper, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Colorado, speaks during a car rally for Doug Emhoff, husband of Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, at East High School late Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Denver. More than 70 motorists took part in the rally to urge people to get out and vote in the upcoming election. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Democrats losing paths to Senate control as GOP hangs on

Several races remained undecided into Wednesday and at least one headed to a runoff in January.

President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House early Wednesday (AP Photo/Evan Vucci), and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to supporters early Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware (AP Photo/Paul Sancya).
Presidency hinges on tight races in battleground states

Trump claimed victory and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting.

Ahead of the presidential election, workers with Baguer Construction LLC board up a Walgreens on U Street NW, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, in Washington. The site manager said they had been hired to put protective coverings on several Walgreens throughout the city. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Fearing election unrest, U.S. businesses are getting ready

In New York, police have prepared for potential unrest and shifted hundreds of officers to patrol.

Senate ends debate on Barrett nomination, vote coming Monday

Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the Republicans against the cloture motion.

President Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, left, during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Seated in the center is moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump and Biden go after each other in final showdown

The Nashville debate offered them a final national stage to outline starkly different visions for the country.