Former Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) believes Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) team “will play dirty” and accused the socialist senator of attempting to “Hillarize” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), he said in an interview with Politico published Thursday.
Shumin, who served as Vermont’s governor from 2011-2017 and formerly chaired the Democratic Governors Association, cast doubt on Sanders’ commitment to the Democrat party and accused him of attempting to “Hillarize” his opponent and leftist ideological compatriot, Warren.
“What I’ve seen in Bernie’s politics is he and his team feel they’re holier than the rest,” he told Politico. “In the end, they will play dirty because they think that they pass a purity test that Republicans and most Democrats don’t pass.”
“What you’re seeing now is, in the end, even if he considers you a friend, like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie will come first,” Shumin, who endorsed Joe Biden (D), continued.
“That’s the pattern we’ve seen over the years in Vermont, and that’s what we are seeing now nationally,” he added.
Shumlin accused Sanders of trying to “Hillarize” Warren, saying the senator had cast Hillary Clinton, too, as an elitist, contributing to divisions in the Democratic electorate.
“We should be weakening Donald Trump, not each other,” Shumlin said. “I’m concerned that we’re seeing a replay of the kind of dynamics that didn’t allow Hillary to win.”
Shulmin’s remarks follows a week of political fallout between the Warren and Sanders campaign.
Warren on Sunday told reporters she was “disappointed” to hear the Sanders campaign was instructing volunteers to deliver talking points, dissuading potential voters from supporting her. The talking points included the critique that Warren was incapable of expanding the Democrat base.
“I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me,” she said. “Bernie knows me and has known me for a long time. He knows who I am, where I come from, what I have worked on and fought for.”
“I hope Bernie reconsiders and turns his campaign in a different direction,” she added:
Warren hits back: “I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me. Bernie knows me and has known me for a long time…I hope bernie reconsiders and turns his campaign in a different direction.” Also notes the “factionalism” caused by 2016 https://t.co/ER0Vm6sgJS pic.twitter.com/N8prZdeZk9
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) January 12, 2020
A day later, CNN published a report, detailing a private conversation between the two presidential hopefuls in 2018. The report alleged Sanders told Warren he did not believe a woman could win the presidency — an accusation Sanders denied, calling it “ludicrous.”
He told CNN:
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. “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.
Warren, however, released a “clarification,” which affirmed the accusation outlined in CNN’s report.
“Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win; he disagreed,” Warren wrote in part.
The allegation bubbled over to Tuesday’s Democrat debate. CNN moderator Abby Phillip asked Sanders about the report and posed the allegation as fact seconds after his denial:
PHILLIP: So Sen. Sanders — Sen. Sanders, I do want to be clear here, you’re saying that you never told Sen. Warren that a woman could not win the election?
SANDERS: That is correct.
PHILLIP: Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?
WARREN: I disagreed. Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. But, look, this question about whether or not a woman can be president has been raised, and it’s time for us to attack it head-on.
The Massachusetts senator refused to shake Sanders’ hand following the debate’s conclusion, instead engaging in a tense discussion.
“I think you called me a liar on national TV,” Warren stated.
“You know, let’s not do it right now. If you want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion,” Sanders said, adding, “You called me a liar. You told me — all right, let’s not do it now”:
The bruising political week has failed to have a negative impact on Sanders, at least according to a Reuters/Ipsos post-debate national poll, which showed Sanders edging out the former vice president by one point, 20 percent to 19 percent.
Warren fell seven points behind with 12 percent support.