This isn’t the fallout Democrats wanted from the debate.
While the party’s presidential contenders and leading lights no doubt wanted the country buzzing on Wednesday with the idea that a Democrat is finally emerging who could take on President Donald Trump in the fall, the discussion instead was all about an escalating feud between New England Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
A hashtag trending on Twitter on Wednesday — #NeverWarren — showed just how disgusted many Sanders supporters are with the Massachusetts senator, while another — #CNNIsTrash – showed just how badly the rabidly anti-Trump network botched its handling of the issue.
And when Warren declined to shake the Vermont senator’s hand before an apparent confrontation after the debate was over, it was a moment that summarized just how badly the liberal obsession with identity politics and grievance-mongering is fracturing the Democratic Party.
For Trump’s supporters, Wednesday was a morning to enjoy the show.
The issue arose, of course, because of an apparent decision on the part of someone in Warren’s campaign — with the candidate’s numbers dropping in the polls — to play the sexism card against Sanders on the eve of the debate in Des Moines, Iowa, by floating a story about a 2018 conversation between the two senators where Sanders allegedly said he didn’t believe a woman could win the presidency.
“Senator Sanders, CNN reported yesterday, and Senator Warren confirmed in a statement, that in 2018, you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election,” she said. “Why did you say that?”
“Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it,” he answered.
Even worse, Phillip took the question to Warren with wording that essentially called Sanders a liar.
First, she repeated the question to Sanders, saying, “I do want to be clear here, you’re saying that you never told Senator Warren that a woman could not win the election?”
“That is correct,” he said.
“Senator Warren,” Phillip then said, “what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”
— Matt Hultman (@HultmanMatt) January 15, 2020
Warren’s answer was obviously rehearsed — and obviously intended to drive the sexism theme home.
After saying, “I disagreed,” and adding some tripe about Sanders being her “friend,” Warren struck.
“Can a woman beat Donald Trump? Look at the men on this stage,” she said, according to Fox News.
“Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on stage who have won every single election they’ve been in are the women. [Sen.] Amy [Klobuchar of Minnesota] and me. And the only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican anytime in the past 30 years is me. And here’s what I know — the real danger that we face as Democrats is picking a candidate who can’t pull our party together.”
Well, if Warren thought she was going to pull her party together, the fallout proved she was badly, badly mistaken.
Sanders’ supporters were furious.
— Katie? (@KatieArtigli) January 15, 2020
I want to apologize to everyone who I told that Warren was the “other progressive” or an “ally” etc.
I was so wrong.
The great beneficiary of her vicious attack has been the corporate establishment and their puppet Joe Biden. #NeverWarren
— ????????? ?????? (@SocialistBoomer) January 15, 2020
Seeing #NeverWarren trending is giving me faith in humanity again.
Marketing herself as a discount Sanders wearing Clinton’s skin – I wasn’t sure if people could see that she was just another establishment lackey. pic.twitter.com/qIpQ9oOA77
— Skepticᵀᴹ (@ArmouredSkeptic) January 15, 2020
CNN was getting shredded, too.
I’ve been donating every month, but after watching how biased and trashy CNN moderators were behaving, I’ve decided to donate weekly. #CNNisTrash #DemDebate #BernieSanders #Bernie2020 #NeverWarren #CNNBernieHitjob pic.twitter.com/BEUaVRvTSX
— Nas Nasir (@hnasir) January 15, 2020
1. Bernie is surging & leading in new Iowa Poll
2. CNN breaks a fake story of secret meeting between Warren & Bernie
3. CNN hosts last debate in Iowa
4. CNN attacks Bernie in almost every question
5. CNN sets up a Bernie and Warrren Exchange on gender at debate #CNNisTrash https://t.co/k2pRbk3wdK
— Daniel Peeden (@DanielPeeden) January 15, 2020
And some Twitter users nailed both.
— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) January 15, 2020
On the whole, it was not the kind of afterglow from a debate Democrats were looking to enjoy on Wednesday.
And as CNN commentator Chris Cillizza pointed out, the rupture could have real ramifications for Democrats down the road.
“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,” Cillizza wrote Wednesday.
“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.”
“Fanciful” might be putting it too lightly.
There’s no doubt there are millions of American liberals who would be willing to vote for whoever wins the Democratic nomination — the Twitter conversation Wednesday made that clear.
And there might well be Warren supporters who would support Sanders — after all, there’s no proof he said anything derogatory about the possibility of a woman president, no matter what CNN’s Abby Phillip wants to pretend.
But after Sanders was basically sidelined by the Democratic Party establishment in 2016 in favor of the “inevitable” Hillary Clinton, it’s not likely his supporters would be flocking in large numbers to support a Warren candidacy in the off chance it ever materializes. After Tuesday, it might even be an open question whether they’ll support any other candidate besides the socialist from the Green Mountain State.
All in all, Wednesday was not the day Democrats wanted out of Tuesday’s debate, but for Trump supporters, it was entertainment all the way.
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