The amicable relationship between Democratic presidential candidates and longtime friends Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders soured this week over a fraught gender dispute, less than three weeks away from the Iowa caucuses.
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The issue emerged on Tuesday night when the two appeared at the seventh Democratic debate in Des Moines and were asked the fraught question of whether a woman could be elected president in the U.S.
“Can a woman beat Donald Trump? Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections," Warren said. "The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they've been in are the women. Amy [Klobuchar] and me."
Although women account for more than half of the electorate in national elections, they usually make up a minority of donations, according to available donor data.
According to a recent analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that tracks money in elections, Sanders has raised the most money from women since he announced his presidential campaign, with at least 40 percent of his funds stemming from women.
The Vermont senator received substantially more money from men, according to the report, which is based on data available as of Sept. 30. While women donated about $17.1 million to his campaign, Sanders received $25.9 million from men as of that time period, the report found. (To be sure, Sanders has largely dominated the fundraising race: In the fourth quarter, he revealed a massive $34.5 million haul, the most that any Democratic presidential candidate has amassed in a single quarter.)
Comparatively, Warren nabbed about $15.8 million from women and $15.2 million from men — making her one of just four candidates to receive more than half of their fundraising haul from women.
Of course, the data is imperfect: The center used an algorithm to attempt to identify donors as a man or woman, using variables like name or whether the person uses “Mr.” or “Ms.” It did not take into account couples.
The splintered relationship comes amid reports that Sanders told Warren a little over a year ago that he thought Democrats would lose if they nominated a woman to face off against President Trump in November, an account that Sanders vehemently denied. In a statement issued one night ahead of the last debate before the Iowa caucuses kickstarts the nominating contest -- and during the Democratic debate -- Warren stood by the news.
“Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate,” she said in the statement released on Monday. “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.”
Warren’s statement came one day after CNN reported on the meeting. It is the latest escalation in what appeared to be an increasingly strained relationship between the two progressives. On Saturday, Politico reported that Sanders had begun stealthily attacking Warren as a candidate who appeals to “highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what.”
Although Sanders did not directly respond to Warren’s statement, he categorically denied the incident.
"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 said in a statement. “What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could.”
He reiterated that sentiment during the debate.
Still, the nonaggression pact between the progressive duo seemed to be back on, as of Tuesday night.
“Bernie is my friend,” Warren said. “And I am not here to try to fight with Bernie.”