- The faltering truce between Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts fell apart Tuesday night during the seventh Democratic presidential primary debate.
- Debate moderators asked the two progressive lawmakers about recent reporting that Sanders told Warren during a closed-door meeting in 2018 that he didn’t think a woman could win the presidency in 2020.
- Sanders denied ever making such a comment, and Warren publicly contradicted him on it. While both refused to significantly expand on the disagreement, Warren pointed out that “the only people on this stage who have won every single election they have been in are the women: Amy and me,” referring to Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
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The faltering truce between Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts fell apart Tuesday night during the seventh Democratic presidential primary debate.
At the center of the spat were recent media reports that said Sanders told Warren in December 2018, before she launched her campaign, that he didn’t think a woman could win the presidency in 2020.
Sanders denied ever making such a remark, but Warren publicly backed the media’s characterization of the meeting.
Asked about the reports on Tuesday, Sanders said, “As a matter of fact, I didn’t say it.”
He added that he didn’t want to “waste a whole lot of time” on the issue but said “anybody knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman could not be president of the United States.”
He went on to say former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump in the popular vote by more than 3 million.
“How could anybody not believe that a woman could be president of the United States?” Sanders said, reiterating that he never made such a comment to Warren.
Warren repeated her confirmation of the meeting and Sanders’ comments, saying he suggested a woman could not win the presidency and she “disagreed.”
“But Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to fight with Bernie,” Warren said.
The Massachusetts senator drew loud applause when she went on to note that “the only people on this stage who have won every single election they have been in are the women: Amy and me,” referring to Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
“The only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican any time in the past 30 years is me,” Warren added.
Media reports this week said Sanders and Warren, two longtime friends who have publicly championed the left’s progressive movement, met to discuss their electoral strategy before entering the 2020 presidential race in what Warren said was a two-hour meeting that touched on many subjects.
According to CNN, Warren laid out two reasons she believed she was well positioned to beat Trump: She could make a strong argument for economic growth and garner support from female voters. Sanders reportedly responded that he didn’t think a woman could win the election.
Specifically, according to The New York Times, Sanders predicted that Trump would successfully employ sexism to hurt a woman’s chances against him.
News reports detailing the interaction cited several people who said they heard an account of the conversation directly from Warren in the weeks that followed.
Sanders, who has skyrocketed in recent polls and who hauled in more than $30 million in fundraising in the last quarter of 2019, slammed the characterization of the meeting in a statement to CNN.
“It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn’t win,” the Vermont senator said.
He added: “It’s sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren’t in the room are lying about what happened. What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist, and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016.”
Sanders’ campaign manager later weighed in as well, saying the reports were “a lie.”
But Warren publicly contradicted those statements and said that in the 2018 meeting, when they were discussing what would happen if the Democrats chose a female nominee, “I thought a woman could win – he disagreed.”
Warren said she had “no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences in punditry,” adding of Sanders that “we have been friends and allies in this fight for a long time.”