CONWAY, N.H. — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said that he isn’t sure how Vice President Joe Biden’s potential entrance into the 2016 Democratic primary race would affect his chances to win the nomination.
“Politics is not a soap opera. We should not be going around making terrible attacks on each other. Let’s debate the issues. If Joe comes in, that’s what I will do,” Sanders told reporters outside a campaign stop at A. Crosby Kennett Middle School in Conway.
“What impact it will have on the race I honestly don’t know. I mean, I wish I could tell you but I don’t. Will it help or hurt me? Will it help or hurt Hillary Clinton? I just don’t know.”
Sanders reminded reporters that he has known Biden for a long time, and they were colleagues together in the senate for six years.
“You’re not going to find a guy who is more decent than Joe Biden is,” he said. “I promised Joe that if he gets into the race that I will, as I have up to now, run an issue oriented campaign. Joe’s views on a number of issues I suspect, I know, are different on a number of issues than mine.”
Vice President Biden has been quietly contemplating a presidential run for months, and rumors escalated after he sat down for a meeting with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Washington, D.C. this weekend.
“Well you know I’ve had many meetings with Elizabeth Warren, she’s a very, very good friend of mine,” said Sanders. “People, we meet with different people.”
Sanders is proceeding through a campaign trip New Hampshire’s North Country on Monday, a section in the top third of the state that’s sometimes ignored when presidential candidates swing through the region. Record crowds have been showing up at his events across the country, and one recent poll even had him surging past Clinton in New Hampshire.
When asked whether Biden’s entrance into the race signals Clinton’s vulnerability, Sanders said, “I think the evidence is pretty clear, we are gaining. What the polls seem to be indicating is that Hillary Clinton’s support seems to be receding a bit. We’ve got a long way to go. Joe would be a formidable opponent. I’m not sure who politically it would help.”
In Salem, New Hampshire Sunday night, Sanders took pointed aim at the media, calling out the press for treating political coverage like a “soap opera” or a football game.
“One thing that has disturbed me is how the media treats campaigns,” he told the crowd Sunday, noting that Marco Rubio hit somebody on the head with a football, and “that will get more coverage than Marco Rubio’s position on social security.”
Sanders repeated that reference Monday when asked about his recent vocal criticism of the press, but maintained that he still believes coverage of him is fair.
“I don’t have a problem with the way I’m covered," he said. "Do I think I’m being covered any worse or any better than other candidates? No. Has anyone ever heard me say that? ‘Gee, you’re being unfair to me.’ I never said that. But this is what I will say. I want you to talk about and force discussion about climate change. Do you think you do that enough? I would like you to force discussion on poverty in America."
NBC's Carrie Dann contributed