Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is not backing down from his belief that gender is still a “problem” for women running for office.
The Vermont senator argued that although women face gender obstacles in the political race for office, anyone who runs actually “brings some negatives” to the game.
In an interview published by New Hamphire Public Radio, Sanders was asked about the issue that sparked a controversial conflict between his supporters and those of rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren that escalated after the last Democratic presidential debate.
New Hampshire Public Radio reporter Casey McDermott presented the 2020 hopeful with a question about the conversation he reportedly had with Warren back in 2018 in which they discussed whether a woman can win in 2020.
Now the questions turn to @BernieSanders imbroglio with @ewarren. Did you talk at all about whether gender would be an obstacle?
— NH Public Radio (@nhpr) January 19, 2020
The topic created a heated moment during the debate which seemed to plant a prominent rift between the two lawmakers.
Audio released of testy Warren-Sanders exchange at Dem debate: ‘You called me a liar on national TV’ https://t.co/QPCjBORa2K
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) January 16, 2020
“I really don’t want to get into what was a private conversation. But to answer your question, let me just say this,” Sanders said in the NHPR interview.
“It is hard for me to imagine how anybody, in the year 2020, could not believe that a women could not become President of the United States,” he said, reminding listeners that he deferred announcing his candidacy for the 216 presidential race until Warren had confirmed that she would not run against Hillary Clinton.
“You know, the media has blown this thing up and I really don’t want to get into it anymore other than to say, of course, I believe, always believed, and believe today that a woman can be elected president of the United States,” Sanders asserted. “And trust me, if I am not the nominee and a woman is, I will do everything I can to make sure that she is elected.”
Sanders went on to point to Clinton’s popular vote in 2016, and former President Barack Obama winning an election, then a “sweeping re-election.”
“You have a candidate today Mayor Buttigieg who is openly gay. Right. Twenty five years ago, do you think anybody in America would have said we could have a serious candidate for president of the United States who is openly gay, married?” he asked.
“The world has changed. Those people who think a woman can’t be elected, you’re dead wrong. Those who think a gay person can’t be elected, you’re dead wrong. Those who think an African-American person can’t be elected, you’re dead wrong,” he said.
“I think the American people have moved very significantly in trying to look at candidates based on what they stand for, not on their agenda, not on their sexuality, not on their race,” he added.
“Do you think that female candidates have a different experience running for president than you? And do you think that gender is still an obstacle for a female politician?” McDermott asked.
“Look, the answer is yes,” Sanders replied, “but I think everybody has their own sets of problems.”
“I’m 78 years of age, that’s a problem. There are a lot of people who say, ‘well, I like Bernie, he’s a nice guy, but he’s 78 years of age.’ So we have to argue: please look at the totality of who I am,” he argued.
“If you’re looking at Buttigieg, he’s a young guy and people have said, ‘well, he’s too young to be president.’ And you look at this one and she’s a woman,” Sanders continued. “Everybody brings some negatives, if you like. I would just hope very much that the American people look at the totality of a candidate. Not at their gender, not at their sexuality, not at their age, but at everything. Nobody is perfect. There ain’t no perfect candidate out there.”
But Sanders’ comments only seemed to fuel the fire for some of Warren’s supporters who reacted on social media.
Warren backers already seizing on Sanders’ wording, saying gender or sexuality (in Pete’s case) isn’t a “problem.” Just goes to show there is nothing to be gained by Warren or Sanders by dwelling on this disagreement. https://t.co/HRQCkzN46V
— Amanda Becker (@AmandaBecker) January 19, 2020
Others called out what they saw as a deliberate mischaracterization of Sanders’ comments and the 2020 hopeful’s communications director, Mike Casca, tweeted out a mock response to the interview.
breaking: @BernieSanders observes that sexism, ageism and homophobia exist in america and will be weaponized by donald trump in the general election.https://t.co/1RXo7NRyXH
— mike casca (@cascamike) January 19, 2020
When asked about the latest comments by reporters on Sunday who were traveling with her, Warren had “zero interest” in responding.
In Des Moines, a reporter just read Elizabeth Warren part of Bernie Sanders’s quote about gender — “Everybody has their own set of problems” — and she had zero interest in responding. “I have no further comment on this,” Warren said twice.
— Ruby Cramer (@rubycramer) January 19, 2020
“I have been friends with Bernie for a long time,” she said. “We work together on many, many issues, and I’ve said all I’m gonna say on this topic.”
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