Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., acknowledges the crowd during a campaign event at the Old South Meeting House, Friday, Dec. 31, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
The 2020 election has taken a backseat the last several months as impeachment and Iran have overtaken the headlines. Despite that, there is indeed still a Democrat primary going on, in which a barely lucid Joe Biden continues to lead the field.
Meanwhile, in a fight for the second position, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have finally broken their mutual defense pact. To this point, they’ve craftily avoided criticizing each other, as they often share the same policy viewpoints anyway. There’s also a belief among both candidates that they can pick up the other’s voters once they collapse, so they don’t want to tick anyone off.
That’s over now, though. With the Democrat debate coming tomorrow, the battle lines are being drawn.
First, there was a dust-up about a Bernie volunteer script which targeted Warren for being supported by too many rich people or something.
The script instructs Sanders volunteers to tell voters leaning toward the Massachusetts senator that the “people who support her are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what” and that “she’s bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.”
“I like Elizabeth Warren. [optional]” the script begins. “In fact, she’s my second choice. But here’s my concern about her.” It then pivots to the criticisms of Warren…
Then another snippet dropped today from CNN accusing Bernie of saying Warren couldn’t win because she’s a woman.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) January 13, 2020
Honestly, this seems more like a coordinated hit by Warren with the help of the media than an honest disagreement among candidates. These outlets are rushing to print anonymous stories that just so happen to target Bernie while Warren gets to take the high road and gasp when those same media outlets ask her about it. It’s too coincidental.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 13, 2020
Bernie is denying the stories.
NEW: Bernie has vehemently denied he said a woman couldn't win, blaming the CNN story on "staff who weren’t in the room are lying about what happened.” But Elizabeth Warren herself told the story as it's been reported in the weeks following her meeting. https://t.co/13mb6YjcqD
— Ruby Cramer (@rubycramer) January 13, 2020
Even though Bernie says this didn’t happen and the “staffers” being quoted weren’t in the room, Warren is out there telling it anyway.
I’m not sure I buy it. It just doesn’t sound like something Sanders would say, as he’s a true believer when it comes to the social justice stuff. Warren appears to be making up stories in order to help her floundering campaign, which has seen her go from frontrunner to third place in short order.
The most important line in this story is that Elizabeth Warren’s campaign declined to comment. She was in the room for the alleged Bernie Sanders comment and by not commenting she allows the story to run. https://t.co/uP8sqBaJmC
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) January 13, 2020
The real question is whether Bernie has the fortitude to respond with a vengeance tomorrow night. To this moment in the race, he’s played coy and avoided going after Warren. Now that she’s slapping at him out in the open, the gloves will have to come off, if for no other reason than Sanders knows he can’t win if Warren remains in the race.
I’m skeptical Sanders will do what it takes, as he wimped out in 2016 from going after Hillary when he had her nearly on the ropes for a time. But we’ll see.