New Hampshire progressive and radio host Arnie Arnesen says she got a phone call in January 2015 from Bernie Sanders. The two have known each other for 30 years. She says she laughed four years ago when Sanders told her he wanted to run for president. He asked if she could host a gathering for him at her Concord home. Arnesen was shocked when 150 people showed up.
Arnesen, a former gubernatorial candidate, says she still loves Sanders and is grateful that he ran in 2016, changed the Democratic party and inspired millions. "Having said that," she said, "I'm incredibly sad what he's doing today."
Arnesen says this is a completely different election with a talented lineup of progressive candidates of all ages, races and religions — which she attributes, in part, to Sanders.
"Some of our roles are to open doors and other people get to walk through them. Bernie Sanders opened a hell of a lot of doors. But it may not have been for him," she said
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Arnesen says the question is what Sanders brings to the 2020 table.
"I'm not sure there is added value," she said.
This is not to say that Sanders does not still have his loyal fan base.
"With Bernie, there is still a bit of a cult of personality. And those people will be with him till the dying days," Arnesen said. "I think there was also an assumption that we would all be there again. And a lot of people that I've talked to who are big Bernie supporters, they never got a phone call."
Many in New Hampshire remember the giant crowds Sanders attracted in 2016 and are watching closely to see if those same supporters still "feel the Bern."