Decide for yourself whether Elizabeth Warren refused to shake Bernie Sanders’ hand after the Democratic debate

An image showing the non-handshake between Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

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An image showing the non-handshake between Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
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YouTube / The Guardian
  • Video footage from after Tuesday evening’s Democratic presidential debate appeared to show Sen. Elizabeth Warren rejecting a handshake from Sen. Bernie Sanders.
  • The incident occurred as Warren went over to talk to Sanders after the debate.
  • It is unclear what the two were talking about, but their fellow presidential candidate Tom Steyer, who stepped in the middle of it, described the scene to CNN as “an awkward moment.”
  • Watch the video below and decide for yourself whether Warren rejected Sanders’ handshake offer.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Video footage from shortly after Tuesday evening’s Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, appeared to show Sen. Elizabeth Warren rejecting a handshake from Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The moment was captured in the video below. Warren shook the hands of two other candidates, but when Sanders reached his right hand out as Warren approached him, she moved her hands away.

Warren appeared to clasp her hands together instead of taking the handshake, and the two then had what looked like an intense, serious discussion before Sanders turned and walked off the stage. The moment was fleeting, and, without knowing exactly what they said to each other, ambiguous. But both CNN and Fox News interpreted the encounter as a snub.

A closer look, however, suggests it’s not clear that Warren was explicitly refusing to be polite to Sanders.

A slowed-down version of the clip can be seen below.

Their fellow candidate Tom Steyer, who ended up between the two as they were talking, later described the encounter to CNN as “awkward.”

In the video, Steyer approached Sanders with a smile on his face but appeared to quickly pick up on some tension as he looked from Warren to Sanders and then back again.

Following the debate, Steyer told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “I don’t know what they were saying, all I was trying to say is, ‘Senator Warren, Senator Sanders, it’s been great to see you, thank you for participating in this.’ And whatever there was going on between each other, I was trying to get out of the way as fast as possible.”

Sanders and Warren, the two progressive standard-bearers of the election race, have largely refrained from engaging in political attacks on each other thus far, but their nonaggression pact seems to be breaking down as the Iowa caucuses loom.

The two were prompted during the debate to address reports and a statement by Warren that Sanders told Warren in 2018 that he did not think a woman could win the presidency in 2020. Sanders has denied saying that.