“Well, 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 who knows me knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be President of the United States.”
Warren was then asked what her reaction was to what Sanders had said back in 2018. “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.”
There are real consequences to all of these raw feelings. Sanders and Warren are the two most prominent liberals in the race, and for either one of them to beat former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination this year, they will need the near-united support of the left. Up until a few days ago, that seemed like a very real possibility, with Warren and Sanders refusing to attack one another and their supporters — online and off — largely aiming their rhetorical fire at the likes of Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
After Tuesday night, however, the idea of the Sanders people rallying around Warren if, after the first few primaries and caucuses, she looks like the most viable liberal candidate, now seems fanciful. And, vice versa for the Warren people being cool with the idea of Sanders as the liberal choice for 2020.
And that is true no matter what the two principals say (or don’t say) about that now-famous December 2018 meeting and/or the no-handshake moment in Tuesday night’s debate. What happened Tuesday night seems likely to reverberate not just through the Iowa caucuses in 19 days’ time but the broader fight over who emerges as the liberal choice and whether — or not — the left is willing to rally around that person.