Reaction has been swift and angry after CNN reported Bernie Sanders told fellow presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren that a woman could not be elected president.
Update: Warren confirmed the report on Monday night in a statement released on Twitter.
The discussion reportedly happened at Warren's Washington, D.C., apartment in December 2018; in the meeting, the two candidates ostensibly ironed out how they should move forward with their candidacies without alienating their progressive bases.
"The two agreed that if they ultimately faced each other as presidential candidates, they should remain civil and avoid attacking one another, so as not to hurt the progressive movement," CNN reported, based on the testimonies of four individuals. "They also discussed how to best take on President Donald Trump, and Warren laid out two main reasons she believed she would be a strong candidate: She could make a robust argument about the economy and earn broad support from female voters. Sanders responded that he did not believe a woman could win."
In the conversation, Sanders also expressed anger at identity politics, according to CNN. Identity politics is often described as political outreach to groups or demographics, often marginalized. Many criticized Hillary Clinton for often proclaiming support for groups like the differently-abled, transgender people, and working women, with some saying it alienated those who are not part of those groups. Of course, the concerns of white, middle-class people are almost nearly first and foremost in any presidential campaign, and Clinton ultimately received more votes than Sanders in the 2016 Democratic nominating contest and bested Trump by nearly three million votes (though she ultimately lost because of the Electoral College).
As pointed out by CNN, Sanders's reported comments are at odds with not only Clinton's showing in 2016 (something Sanders acknowledged in his statement rebutting the report; see below) and in the 2018 midterm election, where a record number of women were elected to Congress and state-level offices.
"It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn't win," Sanders told CNN. "It's sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren't in the room are lying about what happened. What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016."
Clinton, Warren, and Kamala Harris (a female presidential candidate who recently dropped out) have not commented publicly on the CNN report. Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, another female candidate for president, did weigh in: