San­ders, War­ren spar over gen­der

Dems also tackle war, Iraq, Iran at Iowa de­bate

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Alexandra Jaffe, Steve Peo­ples and Dar­lene Superville

DES MOINES, Iowa — El­iz­a­beth War­ren made a vig­or­ous case for a fe­male pres­i­dent and stood be­hind her ac­cu­sa­tion sug­gest­ing sex­ism by pro­gres­sive ri­val Bernie San­ders on Tues­day night in a tense Demo­cratic de­bate that raised gen­der as a key is­sue in the sprint to Iowa’s pres­i­den­tial cau­cuses next month.

San­ders de­nied War­ren’s ac­cu­sa­tion, which threat­ened to split the Demo­cratic Party’s far-left flank — and a long­time lib­eral al­liance — at a crit­i­cal mo­ment in the 2020 con­test.

“Look at the men on this

“She said that Bernie stated strongly that a woman can’t win. I don’t be­lieve that Bernie said that, I re­ally don’t. It’s not the kind of thing Bernie would say.” Pres­i­dent Donald Trump, weigh­ing in on a feud be­tween Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Bernie San­ders and El­iz­a­beth War­ren

stage. Col­lec­tively they have lost 10 elec­tions,” War­ren ex­claimed “The only peo­ple on this stage who have won ev­ery sin­gle elec­tion that they’ve been in are the women.”

An in­cred­u­lous San­ders re­sponded: “Does any­body in their right mind think a woman can’t be elected pres­i­dent?” he asked. “Of course a woman can win.”

He added: “I don’t know that that’s the ma­jor is­sue of the day.”

The drama un­folded 20 days be­fore Iowa’s kick-off cau­cuses with four can­di­dates tan­gled at the top of the shift­ing field.

Long­time al­lies War­ren and San­ders are icons in the party’s left wing.

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, con­sid­ered the cen­trist in the race, has main­tained his place as an es­tab­lish­ment fa­vorite thanks to re­la­tion­ships with Demo­cratic of­fi­cials that have spanned decades. And Pete But­tigieg, a vir­tual un­known a year ago, is try­ing to carve his own path as a 37-year-old openly gay mil­i­tary vet­eran from the Mid­west.

Min­nesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and busi­ness­man Tom Steyer joined them on stage.

The race un­til now has been de­fined by re­spect­ful pol­icy dif­fer­ences and ur­gent op­po­si­tion to Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s re­elec­tion,. Tues­day night, the sim­mer­ing feud be­tween War­ren and San­ders — lit­er­ally a “he-said, she-said” clash be­tween the pro­gres­sive move­ment’s two big­gest stars — some­times over­shad­owed crit­i­cism of Trump and the left wing’s de­sire to at­tack Bi­den and But­tigieg.

Trump, cam­paign­ing in neigh­bor­ing Wis­con­sin just as Democrats took the de­bate stage, tried to en­cour­age the feud be­tween San­ders and War­ren from afar.

“She said that Bernie stated strongly that a woman can’t win. I don’t be­lieve that Bernie said that, I re­ally don’t. It’s not the kind of thing Bernie would say,” Trump said.

Just six can­di­dates gath­ered in Des Moines, each ea­ger to seize a dose of fi­nal-days mo­men­tum on na­tional tele­vi­sion be­fore Iowa’s Feb. 3 cau­cuses. Di­ver­sity was a fo­cus even be­fore the prime-time event be­gan.

For the first time, not a sin­gle can­di­date of color ap­peared on stage. All six can­di­dates who met the party’s polling and donor thresh­olds were white, and four were men.

Tues­day’s de­bate show­cased dif­fer­ences be­tween the can­di­dates on a num­ber of is­sues. San­ders stepped up his at­tacks on Bi­den over the for­mer vice pres­i­dent’s past sup­port of the Iraq War and broad free-trade agree­ments. Klobuchar, who has had sev­eral strong de­bates, looked for op­por­tu­ni­ties as she re­mained mired in the mid­dle of the pack in polling. Bil­lion­aire Steyer faced crit­i­cism that he’s try­ing to buy his way to the White House.

With sur­veys show­ing But­tigieg los­ing sup­port in Iowa, the for­mer mayor of South Bend, In­di­ana, strug­gled for at­ten­tion in a de­bate that of­ten fea­tured points of con­flict among his ri­vals.

The evening be­gan with the can­di­dates clash­ing over Iraq, war and for­eign pol­icy, although they were largely united against Trump’s lead­er­ship on such is­sues.

San­ders drew a sharp con­trast with Bi­den by not­ing that San­ders ag­gres­sively fought against a 2002 mea­sure to au­tho­rize mil­i­tary ac­tion against Iraq.

San­ders called the Iraq in­va­sion “the worst for­eign pol­icy blunder in the mod­ern his­tory of this coun­try.”

“I did ev­ery­thing I could to pre­vent that war,” San­ders said. “Joe saw it dif­fer­ently.”

Bi­den ac­knowl­edged that his 2002 vote to au­tho­rize mil­i­tary ac­tion was “a mis­take,” but high­lighted his role in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion help­ing to draw down the U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence in the re­gion.

Sev­eral can­di­dates con­demned Trump’s re­cent move to kill Iran’s top gen­eral and his de­ci­sion to keep U.S. troops in the re­gion.

“We have to get com­bat troops out,” de­clared War­ren, who also called for re­duc­ing the mil­i­tary bud­get.

Oth­ers, in­clud­ing But­tigieg, Bi­den and Klobuchar, said they fa­vored main­tain­ing a small mil­i­tary pres­ence in the Mid­dle East.

“I bring a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive,” said But­tigeg, who was a mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer in Afghanista­n. “We can con­tinue to re­main en­gaged with­out hav­ing an end­less com­mit­ment to ground troops.”

CHAR­LIE NEIBERGALL/AP

Demo­cratic can­di­dates Tom Steyer, from left, El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Joe Bi­den, Bernie San­ders, Pete But­tigieg and Amy Klobuchar take the stage Tues­day.

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