Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders attempted to walk back his spokeswoman's request to the press Tuesday: "Don't ask about ISIS today."
Sanders spokeswoman, Symone Sanders, entered the press room moments before the senator ended a roundtable discussion with Black Lives Matter activists. Outlining the topics the media could ask the presidential hopeful, the spokeswoman made it clear that questions regarding the Islamic State were off limits.
It is common practice for press secretaries to outline the talking points of press conferences, but it is atypical for them to outline questions reporters can and cannot ask.
The press limitation came at a disadvantageous time for Sanders. With the last month's Paris attack still impacting the news cycle, the San Bernardino attack last week and candidates' increased focus on foreign policy, the Islamic State has taken centerstage in 2016 presidential contest.
Sanders, who has remained largely focused on the economy and social issues, has faced some criticism for not addressing foreign policy enough. According to CNN, Sanders defended his focus on the economy and laughed off the assumption that he avoids foreign policy talk.
"Guys, how often are these people taking about the issues we talked about today?" Sanders asked, in response to a question from CNN regarding ISIS. "Of course I will talk about ISIS, but today what we are talking about is a community, in which, half of the people don't have jobs."
Sanders went on to say he does believe the Islamic State is a "huge national issue," but that he also believed poverty, unemployment, education and healthcare are equally important, so he will "continue to talk about those issues."
Leading up to last month's CBS Democratic debate, Sanders reportedly "threw a fit" when he was informed the network would rearrange its structure to focus more on foreign policy in the wake of the Paris terror attack. Sanders, however, has denied that depiction, saying he was upset about the debate format, not the content of its questions.
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