Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders grew visibly irritated with reporters Tuesday when asked why his press secretary told the media not to ask about ISIS, suggesting the press is ignoring the real issues facing Americans.
The Democratic presidential contender spoke to reporters after touring the Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested and meeting with local pastors to discuss economic and social issues confronting the black community. But before Sanders arrived at a previously scheduled press conference, his national press secretary Symone Sanders told the assembled reporters to stay “on-topic” and not to ask about ISIS.
Sanders took only questions from local media during the presser, all of which focused on the economic issues confronting the African American community. But before he exited the presser, one reporter asked him outright: “Do you not want to talk about ISIS?”
Sanders grew visibly frustrated, laughing bitterly before replying: "Alright, what about ISIS, guys? How often do these people talk about issues that we talked about today? Of course I’ll talk about ISIS.”
"But today what we’re talking about is we’re talking about a community where half of the people don’t have jobs. We’re talking about a community in which there are hundreds of buildings that are uninhabitable. We’re taking about a community where kids are unable to go to schools that are decent,” he added.
He went on to say that "obviously ISIS and terrorism are a huge national issue that we’ve got to address. But so are poverty, so is unemployment, so is education, so is health care, so is the need to protect working families.”
Sanders then stormed out of the room and abruptly left the venue, a community center named in Freddie Gray’s honor, in a black van.
Sanders’ comments come as he continues to trail Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the polls, and as he’s facing mounting questions over whether he’s able to expand his focus beyond economic issues and show an ability to tackle foreign policy.