Top Sanders official: 'Senator would never support the trashing of any candidate'

A top official for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders has right goal, wrong target in fight to help low-wage workers Democrats in standoff over minimum wage Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack MORE's (I-Vt.) 2020 campaign on Monday responded to reports that the campaign was urging volunteers to “trash” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenYellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Hillicon Valley: Google lifting ban on political ads | DHS taking steps on cybersecurity | Controversy over TV 'misinformation rumor mills' MORE (D-Mass.).

Nina Turner, co-chairwoman Sanders's presidential campaign, maintained in an interview with Hill.TV that the Vermont senator “would never support the trashing of any candidate,” and that he has “never directed anybody to do such a thing.”

“I was really sad to see that because as Senator Warren laid out that Senator Sanders knows her — she knows him. She knows that he would never do anything like that so when she says he sent out his volunteers, nothing could be further from the truth,” Turner said.

However, Turner suggested that if the campaign would go so far as to lay out what they characterize as the facts about a rival's record, then there would be nothing wrong with such a move.

“But the comparison of records and lying out the facts about the demographics that each candidate — the same could be said about former mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSenate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary Biden to detail 'roadmap' for partnership with Canada in meeting with Trudeau Biden's infrastructure plan needs input from cities and regions MORE that his supporters tend to trend more affluent, more educated. It’s just what it is,” she added.

Turner’s comments come after Warren, who has been a friendly rival to Sanders, said she was “disappointed” that the Sanders campaign had been using a script for its volunteers to tell potential voters that Warren was appealing to mostly “highly-educated, more affluent people” and that she wouldn’t bring in new supporters to the party.

“I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me,” Warren said. “I hope Bernie reconsiders and turns his campaign in a different direction."

Warren later sent out a fundraising email pushing back against the reported script, saying the claims in the reported script doesn’t “describe me or many of the passionate volunteers and organizers I know.”

She also warned about the impact of “factionalism” that she said impacted the 2016 presidential election.

“Let’s be clear: As a party, and as a country, we can’t afford to repeat the factionalism of the 2016 primary,” the email fundraising said. “To win in November, we need a nominee who can unite a broad coalition of Democrats — who will excite every part of the Democratic party and inspires more people to join the fight.”

Sanders, meanwhile, has dismissed the conflict as a “little bit of a media blow up” and said “nobody is gonna trash Elizabeth,” while speaking to a BuzzFeed News reporter.

Turner’s comments come amid renewed concerns that Sanders could potentially have a negative impact on the party in the 2020 election and that his campaign strategy would make it harder to unify around a nominee.

Sanders has ramped up attacks on top-rivals Warren and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHoyer: House will vote on COVID-19 relief bill Friday Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Powell pushes back on GOP inflation fears MORE leading up to the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on February 3.

While speaking at a Los Angeles Times editorial board meeting last month, the Vermont independent said Trump would eat Biden’s lunch if he is the nominee. He also has increasingly sought to differentiate himself from Warren over their respective progressive agendas, telling ABC’s Jon Karl in an October interview that the main difference between them is her support of capitalism.

— Tess Bonn