Four years ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders made headlines with a passionate, 8-hour speech on the Senate floor lambasting the Bush-era tax cuts and bemoaning the growing gap between rich and poor.
Now Sanders, one of the Senate's two Independents, is taking that message on the road. On his itinerary: The early presidential primary states of Iowa and South Carolina.
On Wednesday Sanders was in Charlotte to accept an award from the American Legion during its national convention. Sanders, who chairs the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee, was honored with the Legion's Patriot Award.
"The cost of war doesn't end when the last shots are fired or the last missiles are launched," he told the Legion audience. "The cost of war continues until the vet receives all of the benefits that he or she has earned."
But when Sanders' met with me, it wasn't veterans that he wanted to talk about. It was the same subject he talked about four years ago and one he's cared about for a long time.
"The main issue that I have is that in America today the middle-class is disappearing while the gap between rich and poor is growing wider," he said. "...We need more people in politics working for ordinary people and not just the top 1 percent."
Sanders, who turns 73 in two weeks, says he hasn't made up his mond about 2016. And he's under no illusions about the prospect for a Democratic Socialist from Vermont getting the nomination, particularly in a field that could include a well-funded Hillary Clinton.
"I realize I'm not a household name," says Sanders, who refuses corporate donations though he has taken money from organized labor.
But he thinks there might be an opening for somebody with the right message. And he's going around the country seeing if audiences agree.
"I think the average American is a lot more frustrated with the establishment than a lot of people perceive," he says. "I think there's receptivity for voices that are going to speak for a working class that is being battered."