Warren: ‘Sanders said no woman could win any US election vote’
Elizabeth Warren says fellow Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told her when they met privately in 2018 that he didn’t think a woman could win the White House.
Mr Sanders has denied the claim. But Ms Warren, a Massachusetts senator, said in a statement that during their two-hour meeting two years ago to discuss the 2020 election, “among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate”. “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed,” she said.
The dispute marked an extraordinary turning point in a Democratic primary that, with few exceptions, has been characterised by genial differences over domestic issues such as health care. The feud brewing between Ms Warren and Mr Sanders was expected to change the tone of the campaign going into last night’s debate and comes less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses launch the Democratic contest.
It also marks a jarring split between the two long-time progressive allies, potentially giving an opening for a more moderate rivals such as former vice-president Joe Biden to attempt unifying the party.
In her statement, Ms Warren said she and Mr Sanders “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,” she said. “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.”
CNN first reported Mr Sanders’ comment on Monday, based on the accounts of anonymous people with knowledge of the meeting. That drew a swift and strong denial from
Mr Sanders, a Vermont senator, who said: “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.”
Mr Sanders’ aides then accused Ms Warren’s campaign of leaking what they said was an inaccurate description of what was said during the meeting.
That helped prompt Ms Warren’s statement hours later. Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Mr Sanders, then seemed to try and defuse the situation, refusing to refute Ms Warren’s version and instead saying on CNN that “those conversations can sometimes get misconstrued.”
The controversy is likely to revive anxiety among Democrats about whether, nearly four years after Hillary Clinton lost her White House bid, voters are willing to support another woman running for president.