Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed a controversy on Tuesday at a Democratic Presidential Debate in Iowa regarding his allegedly telling Sen. Elizabeth Warren that a woman could not take the White House in 2020.
When Des Moines Register political correspondent Brianne Pfannenstiel asked Sanders one of the most anticipated questions of the night, Sanders was adamant in his rebuttal.
“Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it,” Sanders said, referencing whether he’d told Warren during a 2018 meeting that he did not believe a woman could win the 2020 presidential race.
“And I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on this, because this is what Donald Trump and maybe some of the media want. Anybody knows me knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be president of the United States,” the Vermont senator added.
“Go to YouTube today. There’s a video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States. In 2015, I deferred, in fact, to Sen. Warren. It was a movement to draft Sen. Warren to run for president. And you know what, I stayed back. Sen. Warren decided not to run, and I then did run afterwards,” Sanders said.
In a memorable exchange, Pfannenstiel asked Sanders again to confirm that he’d never “told Sen. Warren that a woman could not win the election.”
“That is correct,” Sanders said.
Pfannensteil immediately turned to Warren and drew a laugh from the audience with her pointed question.
“Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?” Pfannensteil said.
CNN: “You’re saying that you never told Senator Warren that a woman couldn’t win the election?”
CNN: “Warren, what did you think when Sanders said a woman couldn’t win the election?”
— Alex Marlow (@AlexMarlow) January 15, 2020
“I disagreed,” Warren replied.
Warren “daggers” Bernie
Earlier in the day, Warren took the unusual step of confirming a report that Sanders told her during a 2018 meeting that he did not believe a woman could win the 2020 presidential race.
Warren and Sanders are fellow U.S. senators, friends and their party’s progressive standard-bearers who agreed early in the nominating contest to an informal non-aggression pact.
But amid escalating tensions between the two rivals and with the first nominating contest looming in early February, Warren pushed back against Sanders’ denial of a CNN report detailing the meeting in which he told her he did not believe a woman could beat Republican President Donald Trump.
“I thought a woman could win; he disagreed,” Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, said in a statement released late on Monday describing the two-hour meeting in December 2018.
Some Sanders supporters on social media described Warren’s actions as a “dagger” to the back of her fellow progressive senator.
In its report on the meeting, CNN cited four people with knowledge of it, including two with whom Warren spoke about it soon after and another two who were familiar with what happened at the meeting.
Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, told CNN it was “ludicrous” that he would tell Warren a woman could not win. “What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could,” he added.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)