Leaked audio has revealed a tense exchange between top Democratic candidates vying for the party nomination to take on US president Donald Trump in the country’s election later this year.
Following a Democratic debate on Wednesday (AEST), Elizabeth Warren accused Bernie Sanders of calling her a liar during the nationally televised event.
In a tense post-debate exchange caught on the candidates’ lapel microphones, and later released by CNN, it’s been revealed what was said as the pair exchanged words and Warren refused to shake the outstretched hand of Sanders.
“I think you called me a liar on national TV,” she says.
Sanders then gently brushes her with his hand, saying: “Let’s not do it right now”.
“You want to have that discussion?” he continues. “We’ll have that discussion.”
Warren then replies: “Anytime”.
Sanders then adds: “You called me a liar”, before concluding: “All right, let’s not do it now”.
The confrontation marks a notable shift in the conduct of the two strong progressives candidates who have steadfastly refused to attack each other for more than a year on the campaign trail.
The interaction stems from an anonymously sourced report from CNN which claimed that Sanders disagreed with Warren during a December 2018 meeting that a woman could win the presidency.
Sanders, a 78-year-old senator from Vermont, has denied he said that, and did so again during the televised debate when asked point-blank by the moderator.
That exchange only lasted a few minutes but after the debate was over, Warren, a 70-year-old Massachusetts senator, approached Sanders, who put out his hand for her to shake. Instead, she confronted him, and the two talked briefly in tense tones.
The moment was interrupted by fellow candidate and environmentalist Tom Steyer, who said: “I don’t want to get in the middle of it” and greeted Sanders as the senator walked away.
Warren’s and Sanders’ aides have for days attempted to de-escalate the feud as some progressives worry that ill will between the two leading voices on the progressive left will ultimately hurt both of them, and leave the nomination wide open for frontrunner Joe Biden.
The most likely scenario is that both Bernie and Warren are telling what they believe to be the truth, neither remembers the word for word of what was said, and they have different understandings of what was meant. It still is a fabricated controversy that only helps Joe Biden— David Pakman (@dpakman) January 16, 2020
What even is this whole Sanders-Warren sexism hullabaloo actually about? Does anyone, including Warren, think he’d be a bad president for women? At a time of such enormous, substantive challenges, what the hell are you all blabbering about?— 𝕁𝕠𝕤𝕙 𝕊𝕫𝕖𝕡𝕤 (@joshzepps) January 16, 2020
hate everything about the warren bernie cycle. how it started, how it makes supporters feel, how press has fanned the flames for conflict, how platforms amplify that conflict (even when it’s fake...aka trending). there’s nothing to feel good about. the stakes are so high.— Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel) January 16, 2020
Barrack Obama’s former Vice President remains the leader in the polls and is the favourite the take out the nomination, ahead of Sanders and Warren.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, 77, and former mayor of South Bend in Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, 37, also remain in the race.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who ended his 2020 presidential campaign Monday, weighed in on the clash on CBS This Morning, saying that "nobody should be attacking their character."
Meanwhile Andrew Yang, another progressive candidate who has garnered a groundswell of support with his promise of a type of universal basic income, did not appear in yesterday’s debate.
— With AP
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