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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made frequent use of charter flights and laid out highly specific demands to staffers regarding his air travel and hotel accommodations while running for president, according to an excerpt from new book detailing Democratic presidential campaigns ahead of the 2020 election.
Sanders’ habits on the campaign trail were detailed in “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaigns to Defeat Trump” by author Edward-Isaac Dovere. In the book, Dovere wrote that private air travel was a “revelation” to Sanders, who had flown commercially before his upstart presidential run in 2016 catapulted him to the national stage.
“Charter flights were a revelation to him. He would always be a little embarrassed pulling into the private terminals, but boy, did he get a kick out of not worrying about being late for a flight that couldn’t take off without him,” Dovere wrote regarding Sanders. “By the beginning of 2017, his staff had put together a document laying out his minimum requirements for the kind of aircraft he’d require if asked to go on trips beyond his regular route back and forth between Vermont and Washington. Couldn’t be too cramped. Couldn’t get too bumpy.”
Sanders was the early frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination to challenge then-President Donald Trump last November, running a campaign that called for universal health care and an end to wealth inequality. A self-declared democratic socialist, Sanders has also expressed support for the “Green New Deal,” an economic and environmental policy overhaul championed by progressives.
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Aside from his requirements for air travel, Sanders and his staff laid out specifics for hotel bookings in a “Senator Comfort Memo,” according to Dovere, who said his research for the book was based on more than 400 interviews over a four-year period.
The book detailed one incident in which Sanders allegedly shamed a hotel worker who couldn’t get his room to his preferred temperature.
“Hotel rooms had to be away from elevators and from ice machines, so that quiet was guaranteed,” Dovere wrote. “He didn’t like getting upgrades and would often switch with an aide if he got the nicer room— ‘If there’s a bomb in there, it’s yours tonight,’ he’d joke— but he liked suites, and he liked bathtubs, and he insisted on a king-size bed, which had to have a down comforter or another blanket in the closet. He preferred that the extra blanket be dark blue, and made of cotton.
“The temperature in the room had to be kept at 60, even if that required having a staffer sit in the room with an open window in the winter to make sure it cooled enough or calling management in to override the system,” he continued. “There was no bending the rules: once on a stop in California, annoyed that his aides couldn’t get the temperature below 65, he had them call the woman from the front desk up to change the thermostat while he sat on the bed, watching. She couldn’t get it to work, and nervously humiliated, she apologized. Sanders didn’t care. ‘So, Chloe,’ he said, annoyed. ‘You don’t want me to sleep tonight?’
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The senator allegedly required pamphlets and other promotional materials to be removed from his hotel rooms and prefers having a fan, once asking an aide to buy one during a blizzard. The memo also directed staffers to ensure his rooms at hotels or events were stocked with drinks and snacks, such as green tea with honey, Gatorade and cans of assorted nuts.
Sanders’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the book’s claims.
Sanders’ preference for private air travel has drawn scrutiny in the past. In 2019, former staffers from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid ripped Sanders’ habit in interviews with Politico, with one aide describing his frequent use of private jets as a “running joke” on the campaign.