DES MOINES, Iowa — Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont said Sunday it is harder for a woman to win the presidency — adding that several of the 2020 candidates, himself included, face challenges when it comes to such personal characteristics as age, sex and sexuality.
Speaking to New Hampshire Public Radio, Mr. Sanders was pressed on whether being a woman makes it harder for Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to win the nomination — a point of contention about a private conversation between the two that has blown up in the past week.
“The answer is, ‘Yes,’ but I think everybody has their own sets of problems,” Mr. Sanders said. “I’m 78 years old. People may not be comfortable with a president that age.”
Mr. Sanders said former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has to deal with the pushback that comes from being young and gay.
“Everyone has their own set of problems, but voters have to look at the totality of a candidate, not at their gender, not at their sexuality,not at their age, but at everything,” he said. “Nobody is perfect. There isn’t a perfect candidate in the race.”
The race recently took a turn after Ms. Warren and her allies charged that Mr. Sanders told her a woman could not win the presidency in 2020. Mr. Sanders has vehemently denied the claim.
The political tensions boiled over on the debate stage last week when the two liberal superstars publicly disagreed over what was said. The event ended with Ms. Warren angrily accusing him of calling her a liar on national television.
Both candidates have since tried to defuse the situation, which has threatened to knock them off message less than three weeks out from the first votes being cast here in Iowa.
Ms. Warren has passed on multiple opportunities to weigh in on the back-and-forth and the fallout from it — including here on Saturday when she was asked about Mr. Sanders’ most recent remarks at the debate.
“I have no further comment on this,” she told reporters after a town hall meeting. “I have been friends with Bernie for a long time. We worked together on many, many, issues and I have said all I am going to say on this.”
Ms. Warren said it is important that Democratic voters “pull together.”