The battle of the sexes is often a battle of hearing and meaning. And it played out on the debate stage Tuesday night.
Warren and Sanders not only couldn’t agree on whether he once told her a woman couldn’t win the White House, there was a dispute about their electoral scorecards.
Asked if he ever told Warren a woman couldn’t win, Sanders issued a flat denial.
“As a matter of fact, I didn’t say it. And I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on this because this is what Donald Trump and maybe some of the media want. Anybody knows me knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be president of the United States,” Sanders said, pointing to his longstanding record and video of him advocating for women to run for president.
Sanders added that, in 2015, he “deferred” to Warren to run for president. And when she didn’t enter the race, he ran.
Warren, however, stood by her claim that Sanders did make the remarks.
When he said it, “I disagreed,” she said. “Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But, look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised and it’s time for us to attack it head-on. And I think the best way to talk about who can win is by looking at people’s winning record.”
She continued: “So, can a woman beat Donald Trump? 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.”
She paused for the applause, the biggest of the night up until that point.
“The only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican anytime in the past 30 years is me,” Warren added.
That bothered Sanders.
“Well, just to set the record straight, I defeated an incumbent Republican running for Congress,” he said.
“When?” Warren asked.
“1990. That’s how I won. Beat a Republican congressman,” Sanders said.
Warren appeared confused: “Thirty years ago. Wasn’t it 30 years ago?”
Sanders repeated himself: “I beat an incumbent Republican congressman.”
Warren then repeated herself: “And I said, ‘I was the only one who’s beaten an incumbent Republican in 30 years.’”
“Well, 30 years ago is 1990, as a matter of fact,” Sanders said.
Who’s right? Sanders, technically. His election was in November 1990. That’s 29 years ago.
Warren-Sanders exchange leads to tense moment following debate
Although Sanders and Warren did not address the dust-up again for the remainder of the debate, a brief video of the senators interacting at the conclusion of the televised forum suggested tensions remained high.
As the Democratic contenders dispersed from the stage, Sanders extended his hand to Warren, which Warren appears to rebuff. The two competitors then engaged in a tense back-and-forth as fellow candidate Tom Steyer looked on, culminating in a seemingly bitter parting as Sanders raised his hands and turned away.
Biden acknowledges his ‘mistake’ on Iraq vote
Asked why he’s prepared to be commander in chief, Sanders made sure to burnish his bipartisan credentials by pointing out that he helped pass a resolution in Congress to stop U.S. support for the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.
And then he turned the screws on Biden, pointing out that he voted against the Iraq War in 2002 when Biden voted for it.
Biden, who has misrepresented his vote on the campaign trail, made sure to capitulate by saying the vote was a “mistake,” a word he went on to use five times.
“It was a mistake. And I acknowledged that,” Biden said before pivoting to how President Barack Obama, who was opposed to the war, chose him as his running mate in 2008 and then relied on him to draw down troops in Iraq. Biden also opposed surging troops in Afghanistan, a war powers vote that Sanders recently said was a mistake for him to vote for as well.
Then Sanders turned back to Biden’s Iraq War vote.
“Joe and I listened to what Dick Cheney and George Bush and [Donald] Rumsfeld had to say. I thought they were lying. I didn’t believe them for a moment. I took to the floor [of the House]. I did everything I could to prevent that war. Joe saw it differently,” Sanders said.
Is Biden ready for Trump?
The question from debate moderator Abby Phillip was as tough a statement as a candidate might make: “Vice President Biden, the eventual nominee will face president Trump who has no problem mocking people using insulting nicknames, slinging mud and telling lies. The debate against him will make tonight’s debate look like child’s play. Are you prepared for that?
“I am prepared for that,” said Biden, before cracking a joke about how often the president has attacked him.
“Look,” he said, “I’ve been the object of his affection now more than anybody else on the stage.”
The crowd laughed.
“I’ve taken all the hits he can deliver, and I’m getting better in the polls — my going up,” Biden said, mentioning that he has strong African-American support and support from “working class people where I come from in Pennsylvania and the places I come from in Delaware.”
“I have support across the board and I’m not worried about taking on Donald Trump at all,” Biden said. “And with regard to the economy I can hardly wait to have that debate with him.”