The Slatest

Sanders on Whether Gender Is Obstacle for Candidates: “Everybody Brings Some Negatives”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speak after the Democratic presidential primary debate at Drake University on January 14, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speak after the Democratic presidential primary debate at Drake University on January 14, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. Scott Olson/Getty Images

At a time when both Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders appeared to be trying to move on from a controversy that had engulfed their campaigns this past week, the Vermont lawmaker made fresh comments that are bound to bring the whole issue back into the spotlight. During an hourlong appearance on New Hampshire Public Radio on Sunday, Sanders specifically likened the difficulties women candidates face to his running for president at the age of 78. He also appeared to describe being a woman as a potential “problem” for a candidate and said that anyone running for the highest office in the late “brings some negatives.”

Asked during the interview whether gender is “still an obstacle” for candidates, Sanders said: “The answer is yes.” But he didn’t stop there. “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 said.

Sanders continued running with the age comparison, mentioning South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is 38. “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.”

When a reporter read Sanders’ comment to Warren, she declined to comment. “I have no further comment on this. I have no further comment on this…I have been friends with Bernie for a long time,” she said. Even if she tries to avoid the issue though, Sanders’ latest words are likely to revive a controversy following a week of back-and-forth over whether the Vermont senator had told Warren in 2018 that a woman could not beat President Donald Trump in 2020.

Both Warren and Sanders appeared to trying to move on from that controversy over the weekend. On Saturday, Warren tried to dismiss the question as unimportant during a house party in Des Moines, Iowa, emphasizing on the need for Democrats to stick together. “Bernie and I have been friends a long time. We fight for the same issues,” Warren said. “That’s all I want to say about that topic because what I truly believe is we’re going to have to pull together.”

Sanders also appeared to be trying to turn the page in another section of the interview with New Hampshire Public Radio on Sunday. “The media has blown this thing up and I don’t want to get into it anymore, other than to say of course that I always believed and believe today that a woman can be elected president of the United States,” Sanders said. “And trust me, if I’m not the nominee and a woman is, I will do everything I can to make sure she is elected.”