Sanders says he won’t go negative against Hillary Clinton
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders endorses Oakland teachers strike Dem strategist says Clinton ‘absolutely’ has a role to play in 2020 News media has sought to 'delegitimize' Tulsi Gabbard, says liberal journalist MORE (I-Vt.) insisted Wednesday that he will not run negative ads against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDem strategist says Clinton ‘absolutely’ has a role to play in 2020 Left-leaning journalist: Sanders would be 'formidable candidate' against Trump Clinton hits EPA for approval of pesticide dump: ‘We need bees!’ MORE in his run for the White House.

“I've never run a negative ad in my life,” he said at a Thursday afternoon press conference. “I hate and detest these 30-second ugly, negative ads.

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“I believe that, in a democracy, what elections are about are serious debates on political issues,” added Sanders, who formally entered the race for the White House on Thursday.

Sanders, who few think can defeat Clinton for the Democratic nomination, did say he would look to draw a contrast with Clinton and other candidates.

“Let’s be clear, to say that people disagree on issues and point out those issues, that’s what a debate is about,” he said. “Let me tell you, I run vigorous campaigns.”

Sanders has shown a willingness to criticize the large donations made to Hillary and Bill Clinton’s foundation, which he has described as being emblematic of the problem of money in politics. On Thursday, he called the donations “a fair issue.”

Sanders spoke to the press from the Senate “Swamp” — a briefing area, where the East side of the Capitol acts as a backdrop.

Some nonreporters gathered on a ledge near the podium to watch the conference, which drew a decent-sized crowd of reporters. Cheers were heard when Sanders finished speaking.

He laid out policy positions in line with his positions in the Senate, including reforms to the health care system, making a college education more affordable and reforming the campaign finance system.