She Said He Said: Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren Take Off The Gloves
The stakes were high when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren met at Warren’s apartment in Washington, DC, one evening in December 2018. The longtime friends knew that they could soon be running against each other for president.
The two agreed that if they ultimately faced each other as presidential candidates, they should remain civil and avoid attacking one another, so as not to hurt the progressive movement. They also discussed how to best take on President Donald Trump, and Warren laid out two main reasons she believed she would be a strong candidate: She could make a robust argument about the economy and earn broad support from female voters.
Sanders responded that he did not believe a woman could win.
The description of that meeting is based on the accounts of four people: two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter, and two people familiar with the meeting.
After publication of this story, Warren herself backed up this account of the meeting, saying in part in a statement Monday, “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.”
Sanders has issued a full denial. Warren stands by her account. Both are kinda sort downplaying it and not downplaying it at the same time. As is usually the case with these kerfuffles, the battle is being waged on Twitter. The Bernie Bros are pointing out that Bernie has a 30-year track record of saying a woman could win an election. They are also noting Warren’s tendency to stretch the truth a bit. Warren Stans, by contrast are pointing to a pattern of behavior from the party and the media that seems to disfavor their candidate.
Ultimately, there is no way of knowing what was said. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle: Bernie, in the context of decrying the party’s drift toward identity politics, said something that Warren interpreted a bit differently than he intended it. All Married-Americans have had the experience of someone saying you said something that you don’t remember saying and would never say because really does that sound like me?
Ultimately, this will not matter. This is another Twitter spat that will not move a single vote, no matter what the truth behind it. What’s more interesting is what it reveals: a growing split between the Warren and Sanders camps. Camps that, until now, have peacefully coexisted. Warren has been fading at the polls and we’ve seen more and more complaints that this is because of media unfairness or sexism, which are not the kind of things you hear from a healthy campaign.
This doesn’t mean Warren can’t win. If she pulls out a victory in Iowa, that will right the ship quite a bit. But she is feeling her moment slipping away. And Bernie is feeling his moment coming. So as we move into the next to last of the 624 primary debates, this will be something to keep an eye on.