Sen. Bernie Sanders riled up tensions between him and fellow left-wing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren by saying that being a woman, like other characteristics, poses a problem for presidential hopefuls.
“I think everybody has their own sets of problems. I’m 78 years of age, that’s a problem,” Sanders said in an interview Sunday when asked if gender is still an obstacle for female politicians. “If you’re looking at [former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete] Buttigieg, he’s a young guy. People will say, well, he’s too young to be president. You look at Elizabeth, she is a woman. Everybody brings some negatives, if you’d 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. You know, nobody is perfect,” he added.
Bernie to NHPR
Question: do you think that gender is still an obstacle for female politicians?
Sanders: Look, I, th- the answer is yes. But I think everybody has their own sets of problems. I’m 78 years of age. That’s a problem. pic.twitter.com/h7ztuYmCXJ
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) January 19, 2020
Sanders’s comments come nearly a week after Warren, a Massachusetts senator, accused him of saying in a private 2018 meeting that he did not think a woman could be president. He denied making that statement, and in a “hot mic” moment following a Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, Warren accused Sanders of calling her a liar on national television.
Earlier in the interview, Sanders said he did not want to talk about the details of the private conversation but reiterated that he thinks a woman could become president in 2020.
“It is hard for me to imagine or anybody in the year 2020 could not believe that a woman could become president in the United States. And if you check my record, I’ve been saying that for 30 years,” Sanders said. He mentioned that he waited to announce his presidential candidacy in 2016 until after Warren indicated that she did not want to run.
A senior Sanders aide responded to outrage over the candidate’s phrasing and disagreement that being a woman or gay is a problem by calling the reactions “a bummer.”
“Bernie is stating a fact we all agree on: Donald Trump is going to use racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia in the general election,” Sanders communications director Mike Casca said in a tweet.
Later on Sunday, the Vermont senator clarified his remarks.
“There is a lot of bigotry. There’s a lot of sexism. There’s a lot of racism. Think about what Barack Obama had to go through. There’s a lot of ageism. There is anti-Semitism. There is homophobia,” Sanders told reporters. “Does anyone doubt that any candidate will not have to deal with those issues?“
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