EMERYVILLE, Calif. — Bernie Sanders had a testy moment with a reporter here Monday when he was asked whether he sees his refusal to cede the Democratic presidential nomination to rival Hillary Clinton as “sexist.”
The back-and-forth exchange with Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times began when she asked the initial question at a news conference but Sanders did not recognize her.
“What do you say to women…” Alcindor asked as Sanders cut her off.
“Excuse me,” Sanders said as he pointed toward CNN correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
“What do you say to women…” she asked again.
“Excuse me!” Sanders said loudly and with irritation. “Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me, ma'am.”
“I have a question,” Alcindor said.
“Well, other hands are up as well,” Sanders said.
Zeleny quickly suggested that the Vermont senator should take Alcindor's question.
“What do you say to women who say that you staying in the race is sexist because you’re standing in the way of what could be the first female president?” Alcindor asked.
“Is that a serious question?” Sanders asked.
“Yes, it is a serious question,” Alcindor said.
Sanders, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, leaned over the wooden lectern at the Hilton Garden Inn conference room overlooking San Francisco Bay.
“That any woman who is 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," he said.
After some crosstalk, Sanders went on.
“To say that is sexist – to say that if Hillary runs for president… Is your point that it is sexist for any man to oppose her?” Sanders asked.
“No, my point is that if she has more delegates than you tomorrow…” Alcindor said.
“Well, that’s another point,” Sanders interrupted.
“… that if you stay in the race, is it sexist?” she finished.
“I don’t think it is sexist,” Sanders said. “I think the issue is, first of all, our focus is on running and winning right here in California. The second point that I have made is that it’s absolutely imperative that we defeat Donald Trump as a candidate for president of the United States. I believe that I am the stronger candidate.”
Zeleny then spoke up with his question. Sanders nodded. And the exchange was over.