Why tonight’s debate could be a doozy – By David Siders (Politico) / Jan 14 2020
The reluctance to attack is now a vestige of the past. In its place is a spray of bullets in every direction
It’s Bernie Sanders versus Joe Biden. Or Biden versus Elizabeth Warren. Or Sanders versus Warren, when she isn’t busy brutalizing Pete Buttigieg.
Nearing the end of a presidential primary marked by its lack of acrimony, the four-candidate pile-up in Iowa is forcing campaigns to alter their terms of engagement in pursuit of even incremental advantages.
The reluctance to brawl is now a vestige of the past. In its place is spray of bullets in every direction.
In a traditional campaign, said Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004, “You get to be the frontrunner, then everybody else makes sure you get taken down.”
The difference this year, he said, is that “everybody’s the frontrunner.”
The rancor has resulted in a new round of hand-wringing by Democrats fearful of weakening the party ahead of the general election — and by progressives fearful of weakening their standing against more moderate Democrats in the primary.
Citing their alarm over the recent sniping between the Sanders and Warren presidential campaigns, the liberal grassroots group Democracy for America implored the two to work together and stop attacking each other — unlikely, as a new rift opened over a CNN report that Sanders had told Warren privately in 2018 that he did not believe a woman could win the presidency in 2020.
After Sanders’ campaign disputed the account, Warren appeared to confirm it, saying in a prepared statement that Sanders “disagreed” with her belief that a woman could win.