In the days leading up to the January 7th, 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary debate, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) claimed that fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told her that a woman could not win the presidency.
CNN debate moderator Abby Phillip appeared to disbelieve Sanders’ denial.
The different accounts from Sanders and Warren of the conversation at their December 2018 was a highlight of Tuesday night’s debate.
CNN moderator Abby Phillip raised the issue about an hour into the two-hour debate, asking Sanders about CNN’s report of the conversation.
“Senator Sanders, CNN reported yesterday, and Senator Warren confirmed in a statement, that in 2018, you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?” Phillips asked Sanders.
“Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it,” Sanders responded.
“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,” Sanders replied. “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.”
“So Senator Sanders, I do want to be clear here,” Phillip followed up, “you’re saying that you never told Senator Warren that a woman could not win the election?”
“That is correct,” Sanders confirmed.
Phillips then turned to Warren, who on Monday night released a statement that agreed with CNN’s account of the meeting. In the statement, Warren said she had disagreed with Sanders on the subject of whether a woman could win the president.
“Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?” Phillip asked Warren.
Warren responded with some initial comments that echoed her Monday statement.
“I disagreed. Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But, look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised, and it’s time for us to attack it head-on,” Warren replied.
Critics of the exchange, including some members of the media, argued that it was unfair for Phillips to frame the question to Warren that presented as fact that Sanders had said a woman couldn’t win the White House.
The controversy heated up after the debate when Warren refused to shake Sanders’s out-stretched hand and reportedly accused him of calling her “a liar on national tv.”
- ^ MJ Lee, Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren in private 2018 meeting that a woman can't win, sources say, CNN, Jan. 13, 2020
- ^ Scott Bixby, Bernie Sanders Denies Telling Warren a Woman Couldn’t Win, and She Chooses to Move On, Daily Beast, Jan. 14, 2020
- ^ Stacey Matthews, Elizabeth Warren Refuses Bernie Post-Debate Handshake as #NeverWarren and #CNNisTrash Trend, Legal Insurrection, Jan. 15, 2020
- ^ Joe Concha, CNN moderator criticized for question to Sanders, The Hill, Jan. 15, 2020
- ^ Kyle Blaine, Jeff Zeleny and Marshall Cohen, Exclusive: Warren accused Sanders in tense post-debate exchange of calling her a 'liar' on national TV, CNN, Jan. 15, 2020