PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stepped up his pitch to women in early-voting New Hampshire on the heels of a squabble over sexism in politics with fellow progressive and 2020 rival Elizabeth Warren.
The Vermont senator delivered a brief speech Saturday at the Seacoast Women’s March in Portsmouth, saying that"we are in this together.”
“Men, if you think abortion rights, if you think equal pay for equal work is just a women's issue, you are dead wrong," Sanders said. "It is a human issue and the men have got to stand with the women."
Sanders did not stay to march, heading instead to the next campaign stop. His remarks at the event came a day after his campaign released two television ads in New Hampshire. The state's primary is set for Feb. 11, eight days after the Iowa caucuses lead off the nominating contests.
One of those ads, “Our Side,” says that, under President Donald Trump, “women’s rights are under attack.”
“Bernie Sanders is on our side and always has been,” a female narrator says over images of Sanders campaigning with and posing for pictures alongside large groups of supporters, most of them women. “Fighting to protect a woman’s right to choose, to fully fund Planned Parenthood, make child care affordable and guarantee paid family leave and equal pay.”
Sanders' efforts underscore the important role women will play in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee in the early states and beyond. But that message may be especially scrutinized given this week's feud with Warren.
In Portsmouth, Sanders said, "What the Women's March, and what we are all about, is saying that it is the women of this country who have the right to control their bodies, not politicians."
He didn't mention Warren or the flare up-with his longtime friend, a Massachusetts senator who overlaps with him on many policy initiatives that seek to overhaul the nation's political and economic system. Warren said this past week that, during a private meeting between the two in 2018, Sanders disagreed that a woman could win the presidency — a charge he's denied.
That has raised deeper questions about societal misogyny that female candidates have to overcome. The senators then clashed about the “he said, she said” feud during a debate last week. Warren refused to shake Sanders’ hand afterward as both of them called the other “a liar.”
They were in the Senate for the start of Trump’s impeachment trial on Thursday and said they’d not subsequently spoken about the inciden t. Since then, both have declined to comment further about it.
Sanders told voters at a later New Hampshire stop, “I think the best thing for all Democratic candidates, and what we're going to do in our campaign is, you heard me tonight, you didn't hear me say a word about any of the other candidates.”
That might have been true in front of campaign audiences, but, even before the dust-up with Warren, Sanders spent weeks criticizing former Vice President Joe Biden as the two compete fiercely in Iowa and beyond. On Saturday, Biden called for Sanders' camp to “disown” what he calls “doctored video” that some of the senator's supporters say shows the former vice president endorsing Republican calls to cut Social Security and Medicare.
A short time later, Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, responded that Biden needed to be honest about his record on Social Security.
Also Saturday, Warren campaigned in Iowa and addressed abortion rights, speaking to Planned Parenthood activists at a private home. She told the crowd that she intentionally wore a pink Planned Parenthood scarf to Trump’s inauguration, fashioned in such a way that the logo would show up any time she was photographed, according to a pool report of the gathering.
One of the people asking a question at the Planned Parenthood event, Tanya Keith of Des Moines, told Warren of the spat with Sanders:"I believe you 100%.”
“Because I looked at you and I looked at him and I'm like, he did that. I know that Bernie Sanders said those things to you, because I have seen your body language and I've seen his body language," Keith said.
Warren responded, “Bernie and I've been friends for a long time."
“We fight for the same issues,” she added. "We've been allies in these fights long before I ever got into politics.”
Weissert reported from Des Moines, Iowa.