FILE – In this July 30, 2019 file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., embrace after the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Bernie Sanders denied a report that in a private meeting in December 2018 he told Elizabeth Warren that he didn’t believe a woman could win the presidency. The two have appeared to have an unspoken agreement not to attack one another during the primary campaign until now, but on the eve of the seventh presidential debate and weeks away from the Iowa caucuses, the courtesy they’ve shown toward each other is sure to be tested on the debate stage.

Sanders’ campaign released an angry statement from the Vermont senator in response to the report published by CNN Monday.

“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,” the Sanders said in the statement. “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.”


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But in a discussion of President Trump’s tactics, according to Sanders, sexism did come up during their conversation.

“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 said. 

He went on to invoke his primary opponent in 2016, who defeated him for the Democratic nod but lost to Mr. Trump in the general election. “Do I believe a woman can win in 2020?  Of course!  After all Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016,” Sanders said.

The Warren campaign has not responded to a request for comment and has not confirmed the report.

To refute the accusation, Sanders’ supporters are also pointing to video of a comment he made in 1988, when he said, “The real issue is not whether you’re black or white, whether you’re a woman or a man — in my view a woman could be elected president of the United States — the real issue is whose side are you on?”

Cara Korte, Ed O’Keefe and Zak Hudak contributed to this report.

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