Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his chief lieutenants are offering contrition and defiance as they face allegations of sexual harassment that plagued his last presidential campaign and now threaten to derail a second White House bid before it begins. Hours after a New York Times report detailed allegations of unwanted sexual advances and pay inequity on his first campaign, Sanders apologized late Wednesday "to any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately." "Of course, if I run again, we will do better next time," Sanders told CNN. Yet there were immediate signs that the allegations, which did not directly involve Sanders, could hurt the self-described democratic socialist's 2020 ambitions in the midst of the #MeToo era, the AP reports.
The Times detailed one situation in which a campaign surrogate touched a strategist's hair in a "sexual way," among other unwanted advances. Others discovered examples of men who were paid significantly more for doing similar jobs. Sanders noted the 2016 campaign grew from just a handful of employees to roughly 1,200 workers in just a few months. "I am not going to sit here and tell you we did everything right in terms of human resources," he told CNN. RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United and a chief Sanders ally, suggested the revelations might help his political future by forcing an important conversation and stronger anti-harassment policies. "This is Bernie Sanders. This is someone who believes from the bottom of his heart in equality," she said. (Sanders says he will run if he turns out to be the best candidate to defeat Trump.)