Warren explains the difference between herself and Sanders

David Knowles

In the wake of a strong performance in Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Elizabeth Warren has sought to distinguish herself from Bernie Sanders, the presumed frontrunner, whose politics closely resemble her own.

At a CNN town hall event on Thursday, Warren mentioned Sanders by name when explaining to voters why she was the best choice for Democrats.

“I not only have a plan for what I want to do, I have a plan to get it done. And on immigration reform, the serious question is for all of the senators, including Sen. Sanders, who still support keeping the filibuster — you’re going to have to find 60 votes to get it done,” Warren said. “My view is that if Mitch McConnell tries to do to me what he did to Barack Obama, and that is to try to block whatever it is you’re trying to do, then I’m all for rolling back the filibuster, and that means we can get immigration reform on 50 votes, which is a lot more likely to happen.”

Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (AP Photo/John Locher)

During an appearance that same night with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Warren was asked what “single policy point” most distinguished her from Sanders.

“I get real stuff done. I have rock-solid values, and I get stuff done. I get hard stuff done. I fought for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, got that thing enacted and set it up over the space of a year. I can work across the aisle when I need to. I’ve got a big hearing aid bill that I got through while Donald Trump was president, got it through on a bipartisan basis. And next year people are going to be able to buy hearing aids over the counter, save them millions of dollars. I don’t want to be president just to yell at people. I want to be president to change things. That’s why I’m going there.”

After rising to frontrunner status early in the race, Warren has, by most accounts, been effectively boxed out by Sanders when it comes to the progressive vote. Sanders won a plurality of the vote in the first two contests of the Democratic primary calendar, in Iowa and New Hampshire. Warren, meanwhile, had disappointing nights in both states, and finished a distant fourth place in New Hampshire.

In an October interview with ABC News, Sanders appealed to the party’s left wing when drawing a distinction between himself and Warren.

“There are differences between Elizabeth and myself,” Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, said. “Elizabeth, I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not.”

While Sanders currently has a one-in-three chance of winning the Democratic nomination, according to the website FiveThirtyEight, Warren is given much longer odds — one in 100.

To change that math, Warren seems to have decided she needs to clearly make the case why she, and not Sanders, is the better choice in 2020.

Her frustration with Sanders boiled over at a January debate in which the two candidates offered differing accounts of a private conversation they had at the Massachusetts senator’s Washington home. According to Warren, Sanders told her he didn’t think a woman could win the presidential election. Sanders denied having made the remark, which led Warren to confront him onstage afterward. “I think you called me a liar on national TV,” she told him.

While the two senators appear to have reconciled, Warren was asked at the Las Vegas debate whether “Sanders and his supporters [are] making it harder for Democrats to unify in November.”

“Look, I have said many times before — we are all responsible for our supporters, and we need to step up. That’s what leadership is all about,” Warren said.

While acknowledging that some of his online fans can be too aggressive, Sanders defended the people who support his campaign, saying that “99.9 percent of them are decent human beings, and working people, and people who believe in justice, compassion and love.”


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