The Story Behind The Tense Non-Handshake Between Warren And Sanders

Democratic presidential hopeful Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (L) chats with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (L) alongside billionaire-philanthropist Tom Steyer (C) during a break of the seventh Democratic pr... Democratic presidential hopeful Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (L) chats with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (L) alongside billionaire-philanthropist Tom Steyer (C) during a break of the seventh Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register at the Drake University campus in Des Moines, Iowa on January 14, 2020. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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January 15, 2020 2:39 p.m.

Most observers of a fairly mild Democratic debate Tuesday have homed in on one exchange that came after the main action ended: Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) refusal to shake Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) hand as they left the stage.

Cameras caught her saying something with a serious look on her face to Sanders as he shook his head in response and pointed to himself then to her. He then turned and walked away.

According to the New York Times, people familiar with the exchange confirmed most people’s assumptions. Warren was bringing up her concern that Sanders mischaracterized a remark he made in 2018 that a woman couldn’t be elected president. He denied saying it again during the debate; Warren maintains that he did.

Per the Times, Sanders asked to continue the conversation at a different time before he moved away.

The Times reporting confirms an earlier comment from Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir given to the Washington Post.“She came to raise a concern, and he said let’s talk about that later,” Shakir said.

Billionaire Tom Steyer awkwardly hovered behind the two, waiting for a handshake while they had their rushed conversation. He told a CNN panel just after the debate that he couldn’t make out much of what they were saying and that he just wanted to remove himself from the uncomfortable situation.

The much-awaited exchange on Sanders’ alleged comment during the debate was less vicious than expected, with Warren quickly changing the subject to the evident electoral success of the women on the stage (herself and Sen. Amy Klobuchar) rather than going back and forth on the comment itself.

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