A New York Times reporter asked Bernie Sanders on Monday if it is sexist for him to continue running for president against what could be the nation’s first female president in Hillary Clinton.
Sanders bristled at the question but also laughed and asked if the reporter, Yamiche Alcindor, was being serious.
The exchange occurred after Sanders opened up his press conference in Emeryville, Calif. to questions from reporters. He pointed to one member of the press in the audience, but Alcindor appears to have jumped in with a question. Sanders attempted to cut her off, saying “excuse me” several times.
But Alcindor continued.
“What do you say to women that say you staying in the race is sexist because it could get in the way of what could be the first female president?” she asked. It is unclear which women believe that it is sexist for the 74-year-old to continue running for president against Clinton.
“Is that a serious question?” Sanders responded. “That any woman running for president, anyone who opposes — your question implies that any woman, that any person, any woman who is running for president is by definition the best candidate.”
“So any woman who runs — to say that it is sexist, that any — so if Hillary Clinton runs for president is your point, that it is sexist for any man to oppose her?”
“No, my point is if she has more delegates than you,” Alcindor responded.
“Then that is another point,” Sanders responded. “That is not — I don’t think it is sexist. I think that the issue is, first of all, our focus right now is running and winning right here in California.”
Clinton currently leads Sanders with 1,812 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 1,521. The party’s nomination requires 2,383 total delegates. When superdelegates are counted, Clinton is within a hair of victory. She currently has the support of 548 superdelegates compared to Sanders’ 46. That gives her a total of 2,360 delegates heading into Tuesday’s California primary.
Sanders’ only hope of victory involves an unlikely scenario. He will need to prevent Clinton from reaching the 2,383 threshold for pledged delegates by then end of the primaries and then sway Clinton superdelegates to his side before the Democratic Party’s convention.
While Sanders faces an almost impossible uphill battle, few have suggested that it is sexist for him to stay in the race. Stubborn, perhaps, but not sexist.
While Alcindor’s question was roundly mocked on social media, Times reporter Maggie Haberman stood by her colleague.