Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont on Sunday encouraged American voters to “took at the totality of a candidate” rather than their gender amid his recent feud with fellow progressive 2020 candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts.
Sanders and Warren, two longtime friends running for the Democratic nomination, last week engaged in a conflict over a private conversation they had in December 2018, where they discussed a potential female president. During the exchange, first reported by CNN last Monday, Warren claims Sanders disagreed with her belief that a woman could win against President Donald Trump in 2020. Sanders denied he said such things.
When asked if gender is still an obstacle for women in politics at a forum sponsored by New Hampshire NPR this weekend, Sanders revisited his dispute with Warren and urged voters to focus on policy rather than age, gender or sexuality.
“Everybody has their own sets of problems,” the senator said. “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.”
“If you’re looking at [former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete] 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.”
His remarks comes after Warren released a statement last week confirming CNN’s account of their private meeting in Washington D.C. in 2018. “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed,” she said. “I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences on punditry.”
Sanders has vehemently denied the claim on numerous occasions since then. In New Hampshire on Sunday, he said: “I’ve always believed and believe today that a woman can be elected president of the United States.”
“The world has changed,” the Vermont senator added. “If you think a woman can’t be elected you are dead wrong. If you think a gay American can’t be elected, you’re dead wrong. If you think an African-American candidate can’t be elected, you’re dead wrong.”
Warren and Sanders traded accusations after the closing statements at the seventh 2020 Democratic debate on Tuesday night. As the candidates moved to shake hands with each other, Warren evaded Sanders’ outstretched hand as she approached him. A tense and dramatic exchange then ensued with Warren accusing Sanders of calling her a liar. Sanders responded by reminding her that she had done the same to him.
Since then, both Warren and Sanders’ campaign has indicated that they would like to move past the disagreement.
Newsweek reached out to Sanders’ campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.