During Sunday evening’s Democratic debate in Washington, D.C., between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Langenfeld, a law professor from Chandler, Arizona, asked the candidates a question pertaining to women’s issues.
“Women are the canaries in the coal mine of the conservative agenda. Our access to health care is at risk from the Federalist Society’s remaking of the courts,” Langenfeld said. “Our lives are threatened by abusive partners’ access to guns. Women are disproportionately affected by bail requirements, Social Security cuts, and cuts to public education. How will your cabinet ensure the best advice on issues that affect women’s physical and financial health?”
Sanders replied first, claiming that his “cabinet” and his “administration will look like America,” meaning that women would be largely represented. The senator then contrasted his policies with those of rival Joe Biden, boasting that he has “a 100% lifetime voting record from groups like NARAL,” the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
Sanders also promoted free childcare, and complained that women shouldn’t be “earning 80 cents on the dollar compared to men,” a long-debunked and misleading statistic.
When it came to Joe Biden, the former vice president announced that he would not only appoint a black woman to the courts if he were president, but that he would choose a female vice presidential candidate.
“I committed that if I’m elected president [and] have an opportunity to appoint someone to the courts, I’ll appoint the first black woman to the courts. It’s required that they have representation now. It’s long overdue,” Biden stated. “Secondly, if I am elected president, my cabinet, my administration will look like the country, and I commit that I will, in fact, pick a woman to be vice president. There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president.”
Biden went on to discuss his previous involvement in “domestic violence law.”
CNN moderator Dana Bash then asked Biden: “Just to be clear, you just committed here tonight that your running mate, if you get the nomination, will be a woman?”
“Yes,” Biden replied.
Bash then asked Sanders if he would “make that same commitment.”
Sanders didn’t answer, instead asking Joe Biden about his previous support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from directly paying for abortion.
“Joe, you have in the past on more than one occasion voted for the Hyde Amendment, which says that a low-income woman cannot use Medicaid funding for an abortion,” Sanders said. “Is that still your view, or have you modified it?”
Biden responded, saying that it is not his view, and that “everybody who has been in the Congress voted for the Hyde Amendment at one point or another because it was locked in other bills.”
Biden added that he would “send immediately to the desk of the United States Congress … if I’m elected president, a codification of Roe v Wade amended by Casey because I think it is a woman’s right to choose, I think it’s a woman’s opportunity to be able to make that decision, and in fact, I’ve gotten a 100% rating from NARAL as well.”
Sanders pressed Biden on the NARAL rating, and Biden said that his high rating was “of late.”
When Sanders finally answered the female running mate question, he stated in part: “In all likelihood, I will. For me, it’s not just nominating a woman, it is making sure that we have a progressive woman, and there are progressive women out there. So, my very strong tendency is to move in that direction.”