Hillary Clinton Welcomes Bernie Sanders To The Race & The Democratic Party Finally Has A Real Contest, Sort Of

Bernie Sanders on Wednesday said he is running for president, and the Vermont senator became the first Democratic challenger to Hillary Clinton's White House run. Soon after, Clinton welcomed Sanders to the race with a friendly tweet that officially kicked off the competition for the Democratic Party's nomination. Well, sort of.

While the Republican Party will probably deal with a dozen or so candidates for its primary, the Democratic Party has the opposite problem. Barring any major catastrophe, Clinton will almost certainly garner the party's nomination. Who would want to take that on? Well, Sanders, a left-wing self-described socialist who actually isn't a Democrat (he's an Independent running in the Democratic race), had previously indicated he was interested in running for president but said he would only announce his candidacy if he could raise enough money. It appears that gauntlet has been met, and the progressives in the country now have their champion.

What does that mean for Clinton? Given Clinton's landslide lead in polls, around 60 percent among Democrats in fact, Sanders' entry is only beneficial for her campaign. Clinton needs to go toe-to-toe with someone in the primary. Just imagine how lonely the stage would look during the party's televised debates. Sanders poses less of a threat than say Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has repeatedly said she's adamant about not running. And so with that likely in mind, Clinton tweeted on Thursday, "I agree with Bernie. Focus must be on helping America's middle class. GOP would hold them back. I welcome him to the race. — H."

The gentleman that he is — Sanders has promised not to run negative ads during his campaign — he didn't hesitate to extend a hand of genial competition, tweeting back, "Thanks @HillaryClinton. Looking forward to debating the big issues: income inequality, climate change & getting big money out of politics."

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Sanders is the longest-serving Independent in Congress' history, and his candidacy is bringing socialism back into the forefront of American politics. Sanders said so himself during a Thursday press conference in Washington:

You're looking at a guy, indisputably, who has the most unusual political history of anybody in the United States Congress.

Sanders' progressive views will bring a different tone to the upcoming debates by focusing on issues such as climate change and income inequality. And for that, frankly, I'm sure America, not just Hillary, welcomes Bernie too.