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I could see the Bernie Sanders campaign was doomed when I met him in February

Blog | By Harry Mount | Sep 08, 2020

Bernie Sanders, 79 today, eventually dropped out of the Presidential campaign. When Harry Mount met him in New Hampshire, Bernie was already exhausted

Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the Presidential race – and I can see why.

The numbers are against him – and it looks like Joe Biden is a shoo-in. So Bernie had to stand down.

But, when I met him in February (filmed in the clip above), in the Piccola Italia Ristorante, Manchester, New Hampshire, Bernie was riding high in the polls – and Biden was looking like the shaky, doddery outsider.

The strange thing about the Presidential race is that it's a battle of old men. Bernie is 78. Biden is 77. President Trump is 73. I suspect this gerontophilia is related to the American love of fame. All three men have been around for such a long time that they've become incredibly famous. Name recognition is no problem in all their cases.

When I met Bernie, he didn't just look old. He also behaved, understandably, like an exhausted, old man. It was freezing in New Hampshire. He was having dinner with a big entourage, including the TV director Michael Moore, in a short break from a relentless campaign, shuttling all over New Hampshire. He was about to embark on a huge nationwide tour in the build-up to Super Tuesday.

And he was frazzled. The Piccola Italia Ristorante was home turf for him, full of fans lining up for a selfie and a congratulatory back-slap. And yet Bernie wasn't really up to it. He was perfectly polite but seemed like a rabbit in the headlights, murmuring pleasantries to the fans. But - in a sympathetic way - he didn't have that raging ego which delights in the presence of praise, unlike Donald Trump.

He looked like he was longing to go home for a good, long sleep.