Bernie Sanders apologizes to women harassed during his campaign

Senator Bernie Sanders has been rattled by accusations from several women on his 2016 presidential campaign that they were harassed or mistreated by campaign staff

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday apologized to women who allege they were sexually harassed while working on his 2016 presidential campaign. "I thank them, from the bottom of my heart, for speaking out", Sanders said in a statement. "What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about..." He added that he was unaware of any negative behavior during his campaign because "I was little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case".

'To the women in our campaign who were harassed or mistreated, I apologize.

Robert Becker - who oversaw Sanders' campaign in Iowa and, as deputy national field director, subsequently lead the senator's efforts in California, Michigan and NY - allegedly approached the 20-year-old female staffer later that night and grabbed her wrists before forcibly kissing her, the woman and three additional sources cited by Politico claim.

The harassment allegations "speak to unacceptable behavior that must not be tolerated in any campaign or any workplace", Sanders said.

Asked about the accusation, Friends of Bernie Sanders, the senator's main campaign committee, told Politico that "Robert Becker would not be part of any future campaigns".

"I was little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case", Sanders told CNN on January 2.

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Becker allegedly told a 20-something woman that he had always wanted to have sex with her and made a reference to riding his 'pole, ' the woman and three other people told the news website.

Later in the night, the 50-year-old Becker grabbed the woman by the wrists and held her head while kissing her, the report said.

As detailed in a report from POLITICO published on Wednesday, top Sanders advisor Robert Becker is accused of forcibly kissing the female staffer, who is reportedly in her 20s and has remained anonymous out of fear of retribution from Sanders supporters. But Jeff Weaver, who ran Sanders' 2016 campaign, stressed then that Becker was not doing so in an official capacity as he "doesn't work for the campaign because there is no campaign".

"Last month, Sen. Sanders said grassroots support would determine whether or not he decides to run for president again", Winnie Wong, co-founder of the People for Bernie, said in a statement, "We are here, and we are ready to support him all the way to finish line".

The Sanders situation hit headlines after November's midterm elections, in which the #MeToo women's movement - propelled by female voters' frustration with President Donald Trump, who himself stands accused of assault or harassment by multiple women - helped sweep Democrats to victory.

Allegations of sexual harassment on the 2016 Sanders campaign have been an issue for the potential 2020 candidate in recent weeks.

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