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

President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE on Tuesday downplayed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel 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.


"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 ClintonSchumer: 'The big lie is spreading like a cancer' among GOP America departs Afghanistan as China arrives Young, diverse voters fueled Biden victory over Trump 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 WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRepublican Sean Parnell jumps into Pennsylvania Senate race Biden sees Trump rematch as real possibility Ode to Mother's Day MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Senate poised for all-day brawl over sweeping elections bill MORE (D-Minn.) and Cory BookerCory BookerIn honor of Mother's Day, lawmakers should pass the Momnibus Act Bush testifies before Congress about racist treatment Black birthing people face during childbirth, pregnancy Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls 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.