Screenshot: CNN (Twitter)

With less than a week to go before the first Democratic primary debate, MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been steadily climbing in a number of both state and national polls, narrowly overtaking VT Sen. Bernie Sanders to assume the number two spot behind former Vice President Joe Biden (or in the case of Minnesota, beating Biden as well).

Faced with the prospect of slipping behind a progressive candidate who shares many of his policy objectives, Sanders shared his thoughts on why Warren seems to be stealing his thunder with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday evening, and it got a little sticky. 

“I think we are running against a lot of problems,” Sanders said, when asked whether voters see Warren as the more “electable” version of himself.

“I think that there are certain number of people who would like to see a woman elected, and I understand that,” Sanders continued. “There are people who would like to see somebody who is younger, and I understand that also. There are a lot of factors out there.”

Those are two valid reasons to support a candidate—we’ve never had a female president and, as Splinter’s Hamilton Nolan pointed out more than seven months ago, “Bernie, you’re old as hell man”—but to discount the fact that people might also be latching onto, say, Warren’s own policy agenda, and not just her gender or the fact that she’s a few years younger than Sanders, is...questionable.

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Bernie’s analysis came after he tweeted critically about a Politico story in which centrist Democrats praised Warren in contrast to him.

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Most people took this as an indirect (or not-so-indirect) shot at Warren, but Sanders denied to Cuomo that his tweet was actually an attack against his fellow senator, explaining “that tweet was not about Elizabeth Warren at all. Not at all. Elizabeth is a friend of mine, and we’re going to run what I hope are issue-oriented campaigns.”