The widening rift between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren has left the political world unsure of whom to believe surrounding a carefully timed story conveniently leaked to the press accusing the Vermont senator of telling his counterpart from Massachusetts that a woman could not win the 2020 election. The unexpected turn of events came after the two candidates have been exchanging increasingly volatile rhetoric about each other in the days leading up to the first Democratic debate of the year on Tuesday night.
But as they say, there’s a tweet for everything, and Twitter sleuths did their jobs in pulling out receipts to show which candidate may be telling the truth.
The leaked story that broken by CNN and initially only attributed to “sources” claimed that during a 2018 meeting between Sanders and Warren, who have always described themselves as friends, he told her he didn’t think a woman could win the 2020 election after she told him she was going to run for president. Sanders later categorically denied the claim, calling it “ludicrous” and insisting that “staff who weren’t in the room are lying about what happened.”
That prompted Warren to issue a statement hours later saying the opposite, claiming Sanders “disagreed” with her that a woman could win the 2020 election before saying she had “no interest in discussing this private meeting any further.”
The Washington Post reported that “people with knowledge of the conversation” said “[o]ne of the people with knowledge of the conversation said Sanders did not say a woman couldn’t win but rather that Trump would use nefarious tactics against the Democratic nominee.
Of course, this wasn’t the last time she or he will discuss these accusations since they will meet four other Democratic candidates on the debate stage in Iowa just about 24 hours after Warren’s apparent confirmation of Sanders’ purported sexist attitude.
Before that, though, multiple tweets emerged showing video footage and other historical proof of Sanders’ progressive and decidedly unsexist approach to politics that dated back decades to a time when Warren was a Republican claiming Native American heritage years before she admitted lying about it.
One video from 1987 showed a younger Sen. Sanders addressing a classroom of very young students and impressing upon them how he hoped “all the girls understand that you, as much as the boys, have the right to be involved in politics and to become president.”
Another video from one year later showed Sanders literally saying that “in my view, a woman could be elected president” before he addressed a concern he still has today — the “workers and people” vs. “big money and the corporations.”
On top of that, the top levels of leadership in Sanders’ campaign are mostly women, who reportedly make up about 70 percent of his national team, including former Ohio Sen. Nina Turner, a Black woman who is also national co-chair of Sander’s campaign.
That isn’t to say that Monday’s allegations were completely out of nowhere.
They followed a weekend report that Sanders had a campaign script saying “people who support [Warren] are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what’ and that Warren is “bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.” That prompted Warren’s campaign to claim that Sanders was “trashing” her campaign.
That exchange paved the way for the story that leaked Monday.
The accusations about Sanders were not without merit, though. Former Sanders staffers told the Daily Beast in June that the senator “struggles” with women’s issues. Other former Sanders staffers who are women told the New York Times in January of last year that they experienced sexism that included “episodes of sexual harassment and demeaning treatment as well as pay disparity in Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign.”
But those above claims didn’t prompt a public rebuke or even acknowledgment from Warren at the time they were made public – or at all – in a possible indication of who may be telling the truth about the claims that Sanders said a woman couldn’t win the 2020 election.