Two former Vermont governors attack Sanders over scuffle with Warren

Kunin Shumlin
Former Vermont Govs. Madeleine Kunin and Peter Shumlin both had harsh words about presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Former Vermont Govs. Madeleine Kunin and Peter Shumlin have criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders in the wake of reports that in a private meeting in December 2018, the Vermont senator told Sen. Elizabeth Warren a woman could not win the presidency in 2020.

In an interview Thursday with Seven Days, Kunin, Vermont’s first and only female governor, said she believes that Sanders did tell Warren a woman couldn’t win the White House. Hours later, Shumlin attacked Sanders, telling Politico, the Sanders campaign is playing “dirty.”  

“As far as the conversation between he and Elizabeth Warren, I tend to believe her, since she’s been such a straight arrow on everything else,” said Kunin, who in 2016 endorsed Hillary Clinton. 

In 1986, Kunin won reelection in a race against Sanders and Republican Peter Smith. Kunin said Sanders claimed during that campaign that he would do more for women if voters replaced her with him. 

“He claimed to be a better feminist than I was,” she told Seven Days. “It shocked me at the time.” 

Shumlin, who announced his support for Joe Biden in November, told Politico that Sanders has a history of lashing out at Democrats because he feels “holier than the rest.”

“Don’t forget, the first office he won was beating the Democratic mayor of Burlington. He never endorsed most Democrats until his Senate career,” Shumlin said. “The only way he could win the Senate seat and avoid a Democrat winning the nomination and splitting the vote in the general election has been to run for the Democratic nomination, win it and immediately turn it down.”

Shumlin also sharply criticized how, in his view, Sanders has treated Warren. 

“What you’re seeing now is, in the end, even if he considers you a friend, like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie will come first,” Shumlin said. “That’s the pattern we’ve seen over the years in Vermont, and that’s what we are seeing now nationally.”

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The comments from the two former governors come as the he-said-she-said between Sanders and Warren has dominated this week’s political news.

After Tuesday’s Democratic presidential candidate debate, during which Sanders again denied Warren’s characterization of their conversation, Warren accused Sanders of calling her a liar on national television. 

Since then, the two candidates have tried to put the matter behind them and Jane Sanders told the Associated Press Wednesday that “people sometimes misremember things” but that the dispute between Warren and her husband has come to an end.

“I think that this discussion is over,” Jane Sanders said. 

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Kit Norton

About Kit

Kit Norton is the general assignment reporter at VTDigger. He is originally from eastern Vermont and graduated from Emerson College in 2017 with a degree in journalism. In 2016, he was a recipient of The Society of Environmental Journalists' Emerging Environmental Journalist award. Kit has worked at PRI's weekly radio environmental program, Living on Earth, and has written for the online news site Truthout.

Email: [email protected]

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