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Sanders denies telling Warren he did not believe a woman could win the presidency

Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Elizabeth Warren confronted Bernie Sanders face-to-face in Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate over her allegation that he told her privately that a woman could not be elected president.

"Can a woman beat Donald Trump?" Warren asked after Sanders denied saying a woman could not win the presidency. "Look at the men on this stage. Collectively they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they've been in are the women: Amy and me."

The crowd at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, burst into cheers.

"So true," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said as Sanders, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer looked on.

"And the only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican any time in the past 30 years is me," Warren continued.

The real danger for the party, she added, is "picking a candidate who can't pull our party together or someone who takes for granted big parts of the Democratic constituency."

Sanders, who ousted a Republican congressman in 1990, objected to Warren's statement about the men's loss record. Warren reminded him that she limited her statement to the last three decades.

Sanders also adamantly denied making the remark about women not being able to win the presidency in a private conversation with Warren at her Washington apartment in December 2018.

 

"Anybody who knows me knows that it's incomprehensible that I would think a woman could not be president of the United States," he said.

From the start of the 2020 campaign, Sanders has faced trouble with gender issues. He apologized a year ago for sexism, sexual harassment and pay discrimination by male supervisors in his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton.

But he faced instant criticism when he responded to a CNN question on why he'd been unaware of the accusers' complaints by saying, "I was a little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case."

He was more forceful in a subsequent apology, saying the discrimination against women who worked on his 2016 campaign was "absolutely unacceptable."

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