By John Whitesides
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders, stung by a feud with progressive ally Elizabeth Warren over gender and electability, released an ad aimed at women voters in New Hampshire on Friday touting his support for women’s rights.
Ahead of a weekend trip to the state that votes second in the Democratic presidential nominating race next month, the ad highlights Sanders’ support for equal pay, abortion rights, paid family leave and affordable child care.
“Bernie Sanders is on our side and always has been,” the female narrator says in the ad, which the campaign said would air in New Hampshire along with a second video touting Sanders’ ambitious goals such as universal healthcare and affordable college.
“Women do not need 80 cents on the dollar. They need the whole damn dollar,” Sanders says in the television spot, which also aired on Monday in Iowa, the state that kicks off the Democratic presidential voting on Feb. 3.
Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, has been on the defensive this week after Warren accused him of telling her in a 2018 meeting that a woman could not win the White House in 2020. Sanders has denied saying it.
The feud between the two old friends and leading liberals was fanned when a microphone caught Warren, who represents Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, telling Sanders after Tuesday’s debate in Iowa that he had accused her of lying on national television.
The spat threatens to sidetrack Sanders’ recent momentum just as he had begun to rise in opinion polls of the Democratic race to find a challenger to Republican President Donald Trump. New Hampshire will vote in the state-by-state race on Feb. 11.
Sanders is battling Warren, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, in a tight race for the top in both states.
Some polls show Sanders, who has strong support among young and liberal voters, trailing his top rivals among women. A Monmouth University poll in New Hampshire from earlier this month found him slightly trailing all three leading rivals among likely women voters.
Sanders plans to campaign in New Hampshire on Saturday and Sunday, with a quick trip to South Carolina and Iowa on Monday before returning to Washington next week for the start of Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Tom Brown and Daniel Wallis)