MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) went after the Republican presidential candidates Friday for their hypocrisy on the issue of "family values," specifically criticizing their positions on abortion and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
"When they talk about family values, they are saying to every woman in this room, every woman in this state and every woman in this country, that you do not have the right to control your own body. I disagree," Sanders said at the Politics & Eggs breakfast forum. "When you talk about family values, what they are saying and what the Republicans in the Senate and House voted for, is to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the important and excellent organizations in this country providing excellent, quality healthcare to well over 1 million women, many of them low-income."
The Democratic presidential candidate also said Republicans believe gay men and women "do not have the right to be married, and I disagree with that as well."
More from Sanders' remarks:
So I happen to think that when you talk about hypocrisy, what you are seeing is Republican candidates running all over the country telling us how much they hate government. Government is the source of all evil, and they’re going to help us all out a lot by cutting Social Security and cutting Medicare and cutting Medicaid, maybe doing away with the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy because they really hate government.
But somehow, when it comes to a very, very personal decision that a woman has to make, they love government. And they want the state and federal government to make that decision for every woman in America. That is hypocrisy. That is wrong.
Sanders' comments were brief -- just a couple of minutes in a speech that lasted nearly an hour -- and were standard Democratic fare. But they were notable because Sanders rarely brings up these "social issues" unprompted. Indeed, he has been criticized for minimizing them.
"Once you get off of the social issues -- abortion, gay rights, guns -- and into the economic issues," he told Rolling Stone, "there is a lot more agreement than the pundits understand."
When Sanders does talk about issues that specifically affect women and people of color, he tends to focus on economic justice -- things like paid family leave and equal pay, which he also brought up in Friday's speech.
Sanders' Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, discusses social issues far more often and is backed by groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign.
Sanders responded to the endorsements by saying those groups were part of an "establishment" that simply didn't back him. The remarks irked some activists, who saw them as evidence that the Vermont senator was dismissing the issues they fight for.
Sanders later clarified that he meant to point out that some members of those organizations back him, even if their leadership does not, and said the groups are "fighting the important fights that have to be fought."
Sanders and Clinton have busy schedules in New Hampshire in the days before Tuesday's primaries. Clinton won in the state in 2008, but Sanders currently has a lead in the polls.
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