In an interview Sunday with NHPR, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders declined to elaborate on a dispute with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren that kicked off a broader debate this week over gender and electability. But Sanders did weigh in on the obstacles facing female candidates.
Asked whether women have a harder time running for president, Sanders said yes, but that many candidates have obstacles that could be viewed as liabilities. At 78, he said he faces doubts about his age.
"Nobody's perfect," Sanders said. "There ain't no perfect candidate out there. All of us have got to do the best. What does that candidate stand for? What is the life record of that campaign."
Sanders declined to elaborate on what was said during the disputed conversation about the dynamics of the 2020 election that has been at the center of his recent quarrel with Warren.
But Sanders said he firmly believes a woman can be president. And if a woman is the nominee in 2020, he said he will do everything he can to get her elected.
Below is a transcript of Sanders' response to a question from NHPR on the issue of gender and politics. You can find a full transcript of Sanders' conversation here.
NHPR: I guess just one more question on this. 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?
Sanders: Look, the answer is yes. 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 say, "Well, you know, I like Bernie, he's a nice guy, but he's 78 years of age." And so we have to argue, please look at the totality of who I am. If you're looking at Buttigieg, he's a young guy and people will say, well, he's too young to be president. So everybody, you know, 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. You know, nobody is perfect. There ain't no perfect candidate out there. And all of us have got to do the best. What does that candidate stand for? What is the life record of that campaign? One of the advantages of kind of being old, if I may say so, is I have a long record. I've been doing this stuff for decades. I've been, you know, making my fight. Some of you agree with me. Some of you don't. But, you know, my record has taken on virtually every special interest out there. I've been doing that for, like, 30 years, standing up for working people; I've probably been on more picket lines than, you know, all of my opponents combined. That's what I do. You talked about Medicare for All. I've been doing this for 25, 30 years or more. So everybody has their advantages. Everybody has their disadvantages. All I would ask of voters is, take a look at the totality of the candidacy, of the person.