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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE on Tuesday downplayed Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersAlan Dershowitz: In defense of Chelsea Clinton O'Rourke: Decisions on late-term abortions 'best left to a woman and her doctor' CNN to host town hall with Cory Booker in South Carolina 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 ClintonDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Dem strategist says Donna Brazile is joining Fox News 'for the money' CNN to host town hall with Cory Booker in South Carolina 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 WarrenDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 Warren introduces petition to end the Electoral College MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisGOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 CNN to host town hall with Cory Booker in South Carolina O'Rourke sees 'a lot of wisdom' in abolishing Electoral College MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharCNN to host town hall with Cory Booker in South Carolina Howard Schultz to be featured in Fox News town hall The Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms MORE (D-Minn.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCNN to host town hall with Cory Booker in South Carolina O'Rourke sees 'a lot of wisdom' in abolishing Electoral College Gillibrand: Aide who claimed sexual harassment was 'believed' 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.