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Trump: Bernie Sanders 'missed his time' for White House

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE on Tuesday downplayed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration In the final chapter of 2020, we must recommit to repairing our democracy MORE's (I-Vt.) chances in the 2020 presidential race, telling reporters he believes the Vermont senator "missed his time" to capture the Democratic nomination.

Trump was asked during an Oval Office announcement on space policy for his reaction to Sanders announcing his presidential bid earlier in the day.

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"Personally I think he missed his time," Trump told reporters. "But I like Bernie because he is one person that, you know, on trade he sort of would agree on trade. I'm being very tough on trade, he was tough on trade."

"The problem is he doesn’t know what to do about it," Trump continued. "We’re doing something very spectacular on trade. But I wish Bernie well. It will be interesting to see how he does."

The president criticized the Democratic Party's treatment of Sanders during his White House bid four years ago, when former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Third vaccine candidate with 90% efficacy Biden won — so why did Trump's popularity hit its highest point ever? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks MORE ultimately secured the nomination.

Party leadership drew scrutiny in the aftermath of the 2016 primary after it emerged that the Democratic National Committee had an agreement with the Clinton campaign to allow it to control the party’s finances and fundraising. The arrangement sparked outrage from Sanders's supporters, who alleged the primary had been rigged against him.

"What happened to Bernie maybe was not so nice," Trump said Tuesday. "He ran great four years ago and he was not treated with respect by Clinton and that was too bad."

Sanders joins a growing list of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in 2020. Among those to launch a bid are Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Biden to nominate Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary: report Bottom line MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet GOP senator: No indication of widespread voting irregularities, window for Trump challenges is 'closing' Biden pledges to work with mayors MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFormer Minnesota Democratic leader quits party Top cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Lawmakers question tech CEOs about content moderation in first post-election hearing MORE (D-Minn.) and Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Hill associations push for more diversity in lawmakers' staffs Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE (D-N.J.).

Trump's campaign said Tuesday morning that Sanders "has already won" the Democratic primary debate "because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism."

The Trump campaign also announced a round of staffing hires as the operation gears up for the 2020 cycle.

Trump on Tuesday shrugged off the mounting field of potential challengers.

"You’ve got a lot of people running but only one person’s going to win. I hope you know who that person is,” he said with a smile before shooing reporters out of the room.