Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said his 2020 presidential campaign will be more diverse and have stronger protocols to prevent sexual harassment, changes spurred by mistakes that he acknowledged plagued his 2016 White House bid.
“We were criticized for being too male, that was a correct criticism. Too white. That was a correct criticism. That is going to change. We will have a much more diverse campaign,” Sanders said on the syndicated “Breakfast Club” radio show Monday.
Sanders also vowed to focus more on preventing incidents of sexual harassment among his campaign staff, like those that occurred during his last bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and for which he recently apologized.
“I don’t deny” that such problems plagued his 2016 campaign “and I’m embarrassed by that,” he said. “That ain’t gonna happen again. We have instituted the strongest protocol to protect women or anybody against sexual harassment.”
Representatives with Sanders’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the details of the procedures.
Sanders previously told CBS News his new presidential bid will provide training for every employee working for him and give anyone who believes they have been victimized or mistreated the opportunity to speak with people outside of the campaign.
“We have instituted the strongest protocol to protect women or anybody against sexual harassment.”
Several days before announcing his White House run last week, Sanders met with a group that included senior aides, former campaign staffers and women who alleged sexual harassment while working for his campaign and who discussed their past experiences, CNN reported.
“He heard many powerful stories and I think he understood that these are not just one-offs and I got the sense that there was a real desire from him to not see a repeat of this ever again,” a former campaign staffer who asked not to be named told the news network.
Sanders has not been implicated in any of the allegations and has said he was unaware of the abuse within a campaign apparatus that he said rapidly grew from a handful of employees to roughly 1,200 workers in a short time.
In Monday’s radio interview, Sanders touted himself as “the strongest candidate to defeat” President Donald Trump. “I think I can win in states that [Hillary] Clinton lost,” he said of Trump’s 2016 Democratic challenger.
Trump’s triumphs in three states that had backed every Democratic presidential nominee since 1992 ― Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin ― provided the margin for his Electoral College win.
Discussing the nomination fight, Sanders said his chances have been improved by Democratic Party rule changes that have significantly lessened the influence of convention superdelegates whose votes aren’t determined by the outcomes of their home state caucuses of primaries. Support from superdelegates proved crucial to securing Clinton’s 2016 nomination.
“There will no longer be superdelegates voting on the first ballot at the convention, which means that now delegates will actually represent the people in their states and there will not be a lot of powerful insiders having undue influence,” Sanders said.
Asked if he believes he was cheated out of the 2016 nomination, Sanders skirted a direct answer but said the Democratic National Committee “was not overly sympathetic of our candidacy.”
“Let’s just say that they represented the establishment that we took on,” he said.