With voting about to begin, it’s somewhat fitting that the only real excitement in the 2020 Democratic primary race is being driven by a “he said, she said” dust-up between Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Sanders has inched into the lead in the Hawkeye State, just 20 days before the 2020 Iowa Caucuses, and he was broadsided this week with a CNN report alleging that he told Warren during a Dec. 2018 meeting at her apartment in Washington, DC, that a woman could not win against President Donald Trump.
The story cited four people as sources: two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter, and two people familiar with the meeting.
Responding to the report, Sanders dismissed the allegation as “ridiculous.”
“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,” Sanders said. “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 Faiz Shakir was adamant that the report was “a lie,” and he welcomed Warren coming out to dispute it.
“We need to hear from her directly, but I know what she would say: That it is not true, that is a lie. I welcome her coming out and disputing this and putting this to rest,” he told CNN.
Well, Shakir was set for disappointment, as Warren’s campaign responded Monday evening with a statement from the senator to say the report is true and that she does not want to discuss it any further.
The champion of women’s rights dismissed an allegation of sexism as “differences on punditry,” which may or may not be a reflection of the ferocity of Bernie’s Army when sufficiently riled.
“Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win; he disagreed,” the statement said. “I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences on punditry.”
“I’m in this race to talk about what’s broken in this country and how to fix it — and that’s what I’m going to continue to do,” Warren continued. “I know Bernie is in the race for the same reason. We have been friends and allies in this fight for a long time, and I have no doubt we will continue to work together to defeat Donald Trump and put our government on the side of the people.”
With a Democratic debate set for Tuesday night in Des Moines, the last debate before the Iowa caucuses — conveniently taking place on CNN — the friendship may be put to test as the candidates are certain to face questions about who’s telling the truth.
There is also a Politico report from last week that Sanders’ campaign allegedly circulated a script for volunteers to tell people that Warren’s the candidate of the elite and that “she’s bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.”
Warren responded by telling reporters she felt “disappointed,” and said that “Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me.”
Sanders has faced allegations of sexism and harassment from his 2016 campaign and apologized to women. His 2018 Senate campaign also had a mandatory briefing for all staff about a “zero-tolerance” sexual harassment policy
“I certainly apologize to any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately, and of course, if I run, we will do better next time,” Sanders said back in January.
The reaction on social media is not faring well for Warren — which is probably why she is eager to brush the controversy aside now that Sanders has been dinged.
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:
So that’s what this is coming to:
Warren’s word, against Bernie’s
…and against Bernie’s statements to the contrary going back as far as the 1980s
…and against the fact that Bernie encouraged Warren to run in 2015
— Simon Narode ? (@SimonNarode) January 14, 2020
As a supporter of @BernieSanders, I have NEVER criticized @ewarren for her biographical claims. Campaigns should be about policy. But if #Warren is going to call Bernie a sexist liar, it’s fair to question her credibility. #ITrustBernie
— LeftOfTheDial (@EricShapiro3) January 14, 2020
Elizabeth Warren drops a bomb and then says she wont discuss further? That is extremely manipulative and dishonest.
After years of pretending to be Bernie Sanders friend she pulls this?
Wow. Elizabeth Warren is not trustworthy.
— ?BERNforBernie2020?RegisterToVote? (@BernForBernie20) January 14, 2020
I always liked Warren overall and even though she wasn’t my preferred candidate, I believed her to be well intentioned. Now I see she’s more sinister and cynical than I could have imagined. What a massive disappointment.
— Rebecca Bitton (@rebeinstein) January 14, 2020
Great statement from the “unity” candidate. She could have joined Bernie in denying and got back to the issues.
The fact that she’s gone scorched-earth on him here is a disgrace. Biden will win.
— Bernie Supporters Are Nice and Smart (@brianpmangan) January 14, 2020
— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) January 14, 2020
shocked that a woman who appropriated Native American culture to further her career would lie to score political points. absolutely disgusting
— biden wants to cut Social Security ? (@PSW_66) January 14, 2020
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