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Five takeaways from January's Democratic debate in Iowa

Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Given a chance to continue their dispute before a national audience, the two largely declined.

"I am not here to fight with Bernie," Warren said, neither backing off nor pressing her assertion that Sanders was fudging about the content of their closed-door chat.

Sanders insisted that of course a woman can be elected. "Does anybody in their right mind" doubt that, he demanded, noting his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote against Trump. (She lost in the Electoral College.)


Looking on, as Warren and Sanders sort-of-but-didn't-really tangle, Biden had good reason to flash that Cheshire Cat grin of his.

There is a long history of murder-suicide in politics, to wit: Candidate A attacks Candidate B and voters, disgusted with both, turn instead to Candidate C.


It happened in Iowa in 2004, the race that most closely resembles the current Democratic contest, with its focus on perceived electability and a national front-runner regarded by many in the party with more resignation than enthusiasm.

In that instance it was Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, running neck-and-neck in Iowa, who set a torch to themselves, allowing the seemingly dead-and-buried Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to surge to victory and, ultimately, the nomination.

Of course, no two campaigns are alike and past performance, as is said, is no guarantee of future results.

Still, any tensions between Warren and Sanders -- as well as their allies and political supporters -- could well redound to the benefit of others, chief among them Biden.


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