- Presidential candidate Tom Steyer found himself in the middle of what appeared to be a tense exchange between Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders after Tuesday’s night’s debate in Iowa.
- Video footage appeared to show Warren rejecting a handshake from Sanders and engaging him in a serious conversation, while Steyer got in the middle and attempted to shake Sanders’ hand.
- “It was one of those awkward moments where I felt like, OK, I need to move on as fast as possible,” Steyer told CNN.
- While Sanders and Warren, the two progressive standard-bearers of the race, have refrained from attacking each other so far, their non-aggression pact is breaking down as the Iowa caucuses loom.
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After the debate, video footage appeared to show Warren rejecting a handshake from Sanders and engaging him in a serious conversation, while Steyer got in the middle and attempted to shake Sanders’ hand.
—Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) January 15, 2020
—Michael Schwab (@michaelschwab13) January 15, 2020
It was unclear what exactly they were discussing, but the moment came after several days of tensions between the two camps that spilled out onto the debate stage. Both candidates were asked about Warren’s claim that Sanders told her in a private December 2018 meeting that he didn’t believe a woman could win the presidency.
After the debate, Steyer told SMNBC’s Chris Matthews, “I don’t know what they were saying, all I was trying to say is, ‘Senator Warren, Senator Sanders, it’s been great to see you, thank you for participating in this. And whatever there was going on between each other, I was trying to get out of the way as fast as possible.”
He later described the handshake attempt as an “awkward moment” to CNN.
—Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 15, 2020
While Sanders and Warren, the two progressive standard-bearers of the race, have refrained from attacking each other so far, their non-aggression pact is breaking down as the Iowa caucuses loom.
Over the weekend, Warren said she was “disappointed” in a Politico report detailing a Sanders volunteer script — which his campaign tried to distance itself from — emphasizing how Warren enjoys greater support among “affluent” and “highly educated voters” and claiming she isn’t capable of bringing new voters into the party.
On Monday, CNN reported that Sanders told Warren in their 2018 meeting that he didn’t believe a woman could win the presidency, which Sanders vehemently denied. CNN’s reporting was later confirmed by The New York Times and BuzzFeed News, with the Warren campaign initially declining to comment on all three outlets’ stories.
But after mounting pressure for her personally to speak out, Warren released a statement confirming the reports on Monday night. She said that in the 2018 meeting when they were discussing what would happen if the Democrats choose a female nominee, “I thought a woman could win, he disagreed.”
When CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip brought up Warren’s statement, Sanders continued to deny ever having said he didn’t think a woman could win.
Warren then had one of the biggest applause lines of the night when she said, “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 [Klonbuchar] and me.:”