Sen. Bernie Sanders is feeling the Bern – and the love – after a photo of him sitting alone in his face mask, winter coat and patchwork mittens at Wednesday’s presidential inauguration went viral.
On Thursday’s episode of “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” Sanders was amused by the now-ubiquitous image, which has Twitter hailing the Vermont senator for his commitment to social distancing and utilitarian fashion choices.
Sanders couldn’t help but laugh when Meyers produced one of his favorite takes on the meme, placing Inauguration Bernie on a couch with the women of “Sex and the City,” and asked if Sanders had been tracking his social media fame.
“Yeah, I’ve seen ’em,” the 79-year-old politician said. “What’s been really nice is the woman who made the mittens lives in Essex Junction, Vermont. She is a schoolteacher and a very, very nice person, and she has been somewhat overwhelmed by the kind of attention that is being shown to her mittens.”
Last year, the Vermont alt-weekly Seven Days confirmed that a second-grade teacher named Jen Ellis was the mastermind behind the cozy hand-warmers, which she made and sent to Sanders for Christmas. The senator has been wearing them ever since.
“Thanks for all the interest in Bernie’s mittens!” Ellis tweeted hours after Wednesday’s event. “It truly has been an amazing and historic day! I’m so flattered that Bernie wore them to the inauguration. Sadly, I have no more mittens for sale. There are a lot of great crafters on ETSY who make them.”
Needless to say, Ellis’ gloves are now all over the internet, as is Sanders – rocking his beloved “grumpy chic” look at the “Friends” Central Perk cafe, on the “Game of Thrones” Iron Throne, in former Vice President Mike Pence’s hair and even on the moon.
Photographer Brendan Smialowski of the Agence France-Presse news service took the shot seen ‘round the world. Sanders, of course, was unaware he was being photographed and destined to become the meme of the week while soaking in the historic day’s proceedings in the frigid Washington, D.C., air.
“I was just sitting there, trying to keep warm,” Sanders told Meyers, “trying to pay attention to what was going on.”
The staunch universal health care advocate also addressed the buzz surrounding the mysterious manila envelope eagle-eyed Twitter users spotted him carrying into the ceremony. Rampant online speculation as to its contents ranged from “executive orders for Biden to sign” to “an article Bernie cut out of the newspaper that he thought Biden would find interesting.”
(According to Buzzfeed reporter Ruby Cramer, the envelope actually contained Sanders’ tickets to the inauguration. But that’s not nearly as fun.)
“I’d love to tell you, Seth,” Sanders said coyly on “Late Night” when asked about the package. “It’s top secret.”
Jokes aside, the former 2020 presidential candidate told Meyers he was “in tears seeing the new president getting sworn in and the old president leaving Washington.” He also advocated for the swift conviction of Donald Trump after the former president was impeached for a second time following this month’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol Building.
“We have got to show the American people that we can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time,” Sanders said. “We don’t have the time to spend weeks and months on impeachment. People are hungry in America today. They’re facing eviction. They have no income. They’re worried about the future … We can go forward simultaneously on all of these issues, if we’re prepared to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
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