By Dylan Stableford
Forget what the pundits say. Jane Sanders, the wife of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, says her husband — not Hillary Clinton — has the momentum in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“There’s no doubt he’s got momentum, and momentum counts,” Jane Sanders told Yahoo News’ Katie Couric in an interview from Cleveland, where she is campaigning with the self-described democratic socialist.
But the woman whose husband wants to start “a political revolution” and hopes to pull off “one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States” says they aren’t in it for the so-called horse race of American politics.
“We’re interested in getting out and talking to people,” Jane Sanders said.
Still, she knows Bernie Sanders has an uphill battle, particularly among African-American voters, as the campaign moves toward Super Tuesday.
“I think they don’t know him as well,” Jane Sanders said. “He’s from the state of Vermont and he isn’t known around the country. He needs to get to know them and they need to get to know him.”
“The enviable position to be in is his,” she continued. “The more they get to know him, the more they like him.”
Jane Sanders also weighed in on the recent controversy sparked by Clinton’s prominent feminist supporters, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who suggested young women should do their part to help elect the first female president in U.S. history.
“I’ve never done gender politics — I think our vote is too important to give away on any single issue,” she said.
And while Jane Sanders admitted that, as a woman, she likes “the concept of a female president,” it’s not the most important thing when choosing the next occupant of the Oval Office.
“What we’re looking for in a president, most importantly, is leadership,” she said. “A person that will actually stand up and fight for the middle class. At this point in time, I think that’s Bernie.”
“It’s been exhilarating,” she continued. “The young people get this, they feel this. They have been very hopeful and they’re energized to turn this country into what we want it to be.”
Jane Sanders said both she and her husband would stand behind Clinton if the former secretary of state is the Democratic nominee.
“It is extremely important that the Republicans do not win this presidency,” she said.
She called GOP frontrunner Donald Trump a “very smart man” but a dangerous candidate who has been given a free ride by the political press.
“The media has given Donald the bully pulpit like nobody else,” she said. “If I were a Republican running for president, I would be furious.
“He’s giving voice to bigotry and intolerance,” she continued. “The more people are exposed to the same thing, the more it seems acceptable. It’s not acceptable.”
The 65-year-old would-be first lady was once a president herself, serving as the head of Burlington College from 2004 to 2011.
Jane Sanders (née O’Meara) met Bernie Sanders in Vermont in 1981 on the night he was elected mayor of Burlington. (“We met at the victory party, and that was the beginning of forever,” she once told Vermont Business Magazine.) They married seven years later. The pair have four children, each from previous marriages, and seven grandchildren.
Jane Sanders was asked by Couric how she fell in love with Bernie.
“I listened to him. He embodied everything I believed in, everything I was taught,” she said. “I fell in love with his ideas before I fell in love with him.
“Thirty-five years later, he’s never let me down,” she added. “I think I’m more in love with him now than I ever was.”