Those following the Democratic presidential primary, particularly on Twitter, witnessed an internet brawl between Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Both have earned the top spot in the primary race at different times, but Senator Warren has seen her recent surge in the polls dwindle ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
CNN and The New York Times both reported on Monday that Sanders told Warren that he did not believe a woman could be elected president, during a private meeting between the progressive senators in 2018. The two outlets ran with this unconfirmed story, despite a complete lack of corroboration or real evidentiary support. Warren then claimed the report to be true in a statement:
NEW statement from Elizabeth Warren on her meeting with Bernie Sanders: “Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.” pic.twitter.com/pCZnCJBZ57— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 14, 2020
Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention could logically conclude that someone in Senator Warren’s campaign, or an ally of the senator, likely leaked this story as a desperate effort for a dying campaign to gain some must-needed morale.
Wait, there are people who *don't* think the Warren campaign leaked the story?— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 14, 2020
Two sources WITHIN THE WARREN CAMPAIGN just told us that Elizabeth Warren “embellishes” stories all of the time, changing key details.— Shaun King (@shaunking) January 14, 2020
“Hell, she’s a politician,” they said. https://t.co/1egyZGYFzL
NEWS: A senior Bernie Sanders' adviser tells me they believe that Elizabeth Warren's campaign intentionally leaked a false description of their 2018 meeting. Says it's a recent pattern of Warren attacking the Dem front-runner.— Steve Peoples (@sppeoples) January 13, 2020
Sen. Sanders vehemently denied Warren's claim, which still has no real substantiation. This is quite the allegation against a sitting senator, and Warren’s confirmation of the story shows that the pair’s unspoken non-aggression pact is over.
Sanders' campaign smartly spun this unconfirmed story as an attempt to distract from the Vermont senator's favorable numbers in recent rounds of national polling.
Why they're desperate. https://t.co/UkgWDVrRQd— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) January 14, 2020
Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard also weighed in, contradicting Warren’s claim with her own story:
I also met with @BernieSanders before announcing my candidacy. We had a nice one-on-one conversation and I informed him that I would be running for President. In that meeting, he showed me the greatest respect and encouragement, just as he always has.— Tulsi Gabbard ?? (@TulsiGabbard) January 14, 2020
In typical Elizabeth Warren fashion, the senator from Massachusetts has changed her version of this story. Per a video from America Rising, in a March 2019 interview, Senator Warren said that the meeting in question was a private matter:
On March 9, 2019 @ewarren said "So Bernie and I had a private dinner and my view is that dinner stays private.”— America Rising (@AmericaRising) January 13, 2020
Then Warren's poll numbers tanked and the meeting leaked.
Coincidence? ?? pic.twitter.com/fvwwHwYbYD
Sen. Sanders, although historically written off by GOP and Democratic operatives alike, has seen a recent surge in national polls ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Senator Warren saw a substantial surge at the end of 2019, but has now plateaued in most reputable polls; former Vice President Joe Biden remains the solid front-runner.
This feud, based on a completely unattested story, escalated the cold war between Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren for the progressive voting bloc; it also shows Senator Warren erasing the unofficial agreement to not attack each other, respected by both senators throughout the campaign, certainly opening the door to attacks in tonight’s debate.