Bernie Sanders addresses campaign sexism and harassment claims

Sanders campaign faces claims of sexism

A possible second run for president by Sen. Bernie Sanders is being overshadowed by allegations of sexism and harassment during his 2016 campaign. Former female staffers told The New York Times they faced harassment and were paid less than their male colleagues.

Sanders was asked about the claims on CNN Wednesday. He apologized and said if he runs again, they will "do better." But he also said he was "a little bit busy" running around the country at the time.

CBSN political contributor and Democratic strategist Lynda Tran told CBSN's "Red and Blue" Sanders' comments are "tone deaf."

"At the end of the day, if it's your campaign, you're ultimately responsible and you're also responsible not only for the culture you set but what you do to respond to it," she said.

Tran said that if Sanders runs for president again, he will be facing a vastly different Democratic field compared to the race in 2016. In addition, he will have to contend with the #MeToo movement and a historic year for female voters that brought more than 100 women to the House.

But both Tran and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez said alleged sexism isn't unique to Sanders' campaign. They also called harassment "prevalent" on both sides of the aisle.

"There are not a lot of opportunities for sexual harassment training in these kind of start-up campaigns that are moving so rapidly. But it's something that would really be a dark contrast from corporate America, for example, or any other type of workplace environment. This is almost the last area where this taboo is still unchecked," said Sanchez.

She pointed to a lack of women in leadership roles within campaigns. 

However, after the developments of the past two years, campaigns will be forced to address diversity within their ranks,
according to Sanchez. 

"There's an understanding that having a broad perspective on gender, on diversity, ethnic diversity among others, is bringing value to highly competitive markets and campaigns," Sanchez said.

Tran, meanwhile, said she doesn't believe The New York Times report will be the last.

"Now that you're hearing stories like this, I think that we're going to see the curtain lifted on a number of other campaigns and experiences," Tran said. "Ultimately, that serves the purposes of the movement to have these voices be heard and for people to take these allegations seriously so that we can change the way we treat people."