Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reportedly told Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren a few weeks before the 2020 campaign started that he did not believe a woman could win the presidency.
A CNN report Monday on the chat between the two senators at Warren's Washington, D.C., apartment in December 2018 led Sanders to issue an adamant denial.
"It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn't win," Sanders said in a written statement released by his campaign. "It's sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren't in the room are lying about what happened."
Sanders recalled telling Warren that President Donald Trump was "a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could."
"Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016."
CNN's report on the conversation said it was based on the accounts of two people who spoke with Warren soon after it took place and two others who were "familiar with the meeting."
Warren's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The contradictory accounts of the conversation come as the nonaggression pact between the leading left-wing candidates in the Democratic race seems to be falling apart. The issue could lead to tense moments at the Democratic debate Tuesday in Des Moines. The two senators have often described one another as friends.
But on Saturday night, Politico reported that Sanders volunteers were instructed to tell voters leaning toward Warren that "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."
Warren struck back on Sunday.