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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE on Tuesday downplayed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Medicare for All': The hype v. Maryland's reality Biden says he supports paying campaign staff minimum wage Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 ClintonChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report A question for Robert Mueller 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 Ann WarrenWarren warns another 'economic crash' is coming The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll New CBS poll shows Biden with 7-point lead in New Hampshire MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage MORE (D-Minn.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerTrump tweets, rally chant dominate Sunday shows as president continues attacks Sunday shows - Fallout over Trump tweets Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' 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.