The stakes were high when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren met at Warren's apartment in Washington, DC, one evening in December 2018. "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?
After Politico reported on a presidential campaign script that calls for Sanders volunteers to suggest to Iowa voters that Warren is the candidate of the elite, who appeals mainly to highly educated voters, she complained the Sanders campaign is "out to trash me".
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens makes a strong case for Sanders' theoretical strength as a candidate: Sanders is Trump from the left: He's an angry old white guy with a cult-like following who loved the old Soviet Union and is so far out of the mainstream Democratic Party, he's not even a Democrat. "Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by three million votes in 2016". "I thought a woman could win; he disagreed".
Still, the controversy is likely to revive anxiety among Democrats about whether - almost four years after Hillary Clinton lost her White House bid - voters are willing to support another woman running for president.
"The real issue is not whether you're black or white, whether you're a woman or a man".
Warren has a long track record of making false claims to advance her own interests. With the new allegations from sources close to Warren however, the truce between the two socialist senators tag-teaming their way through previous debates is likely to change this week with the next primetime event on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa. After a surge of enthusiasm that pushed Pete Buttigieg to the top of the field in November, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor has faded, falling 9 percentage points to land behind both Sanders and U.S. Sen.
The dispute arose when CNN quoted Warren aides as saying she had been told by Mr Sanders during a private meeting that a woman could not win.
This time, Sanders backers seem prepared for an early strike against Warren, before Iowa and New Hampshire. Warren and Buttigieg were in a statistical tie with Sanders, while Biden was behind at 15 per cent support.
If Warren and Sanders agreed on a non-aggression pact of sorts that night, that agreement has become increasingly frayed.
While tensions have been building for months between the campaigns and their supporters, the candidates had so far refused to go after each other directly.
Politico reports: "The script instructs Sanders volunteers to tell voters leaning toward the MA senator that the "people who support her are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what" and that "she's bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.' ..."
The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for additional reaction to the CNN report.
Warren hits back: "I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me. I know Bernie is in the race for the same reason".
Sanders himself appeared to distance himself from the memo, saying on Sunday that his campaign has "hundreds of employees" and that "people sometimes say things that they shouldn't".
"I'm in this race to talk about what's broken in this country and how to fix it - and that's what I'm going to continue to do".