The Washington Times - November 18, 2013, 10:07AM

Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, says anybody who really wants to be president is “slightly crazy” — but that he would be open to a run in 2016 if a suitably progressive candidate does not emerge.

“Under normal times, it’s fine, you have a moderate Democrat running, a moderate Republican running,” Mr. Sanders told the Burlington Free Press. “These are not normal times. The United States right now is in the middle of a severe crisis and you have to call it what it is.”

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Mr. Sanders told the paper he probably would run as an independent — he currently caucuses with Democrats — but that he would be at an immediate disadvantage because he wouldn’t be getting any money from Wall Street or corporate America.

“We have been successful, but it’s one thing to talk about raising money for a Senate campaign in a small state, another thing running for president of the United States,” he said.

In a recent interview with Playboy, Mr. Sanders said that he was pretty sure he wouldn’t make a bid but that running would be a way to shine a spotlight on issues he cares about, such as the American middle class, a yawning income gap between the rich and poor, and high levels of poverty in the country.

“Absolutely? 100 percent? Cross my heart? Is there a stack of Bibles somewhere? Look, maybe it’s only 99 percent,” he told the magazine.

More recently, as one of the more than two dozen lawmakers working to hammer out a deal on the federal budget, he’s pushing to couple increased taxes on the wealthy and cut Pentagon spending, among other things.