PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire -- Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Sunday decried Dr. Ben Carson's suggestion on "Meet The Press" that a Muslim should not be president of the United States.
"This is the year 2015," Sanders told NBC News while talking with reporters after celebrating a campaign field office opening in Portsmouth.
"For a long, long time in the history of America, there were people who would say, 'you know, we don't want a Catholic to be president of the United States.' And then John F. Kennedy became president in 1960," Sanders said. "And then people said, 'oh, we don't want a black guy, African American to be president of the United States,' and then finally Barack Obama became president of the United States."
He continued, "Look, you judge candidates for president not on their religion, not on the color of their skin, but on their ideas on what they stand for. That's what democracy is supposed to be about. So I was very disappointed in Dr. Carson's statement and I disagree with him."
On "Meet The Press" on Sunday, Carson told NBC's Chuck Todd, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that." The retired neurosurgeon also said that the religion of Islam is not compatible with the U.S. Constitution.
Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, generally does not go on the offensive against his opponents in the Democratic presidential primary, telling a town hall crowd in Seabrook earlier in the day, "if I were to start viciously attacking Hillary Clinton it would be on the front pages of every paper." But he is less shy about taking on Republicans.
The senator was in the middle of another campaign trip through the Granite State -- the nation's first primary state that he sees as crucial if he is to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
"I am feeling increasingly confident that we are going to do really well here in New Hampshire," he told reporters. "We are going to do well in Iowa, and if we can do well in those two states, I think we are going to do quite well on Super Tuesday. If we do well on Super Tuesday, we've got a path to a victory."