Tom Steyer just wants to say hi.
The billionaire philanthropist walked into a heated disagreement between Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) following Tuesday night’s final Democratic presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses. The exchange among the three candidates on stage was caught on a hot mic and revealed the following day ― but the moment that many viewers liked the most was not the spat itself but Steyer’s awkward intrusion.
The two progressives have parried this week over a report that Sanders told Warren during a private 2018 meeting that he didn’t think a woman could win the 2020 presidency. Warren later confirmed the CNN story, saying that Sanders had indeed said that to her. Sanders, who had already vehemently denied the CNN report, which was based on anonymous sources, said again during the debate that he never said it.
Many had speculated over the visibly heated exchange when it aired without audio on Tuesday. Steyer, who was seen nearby during the conversation, was quizzed on what was said between the two, but he replied that he “really wasn’t listening” and didn’t overhear the “awkward moment.”
Debate host CNN dug up the audio and aired it Wednesday on Anderson Cooper’s program ― revealing the dialogue.
Warren: “I think you called me a liar on national TV?”
Sanders: “Let’s not do it right now. You want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion.
Sanders: “You called me a liar. You told me … Alright, let’s not do it now.”
Steyer: “I don’t want to get in the middle. I just want to say hi, Bernie.”
Sanders: “Yeah, good, OK.”
Steyer: “It was a treat to see you.”
Twitter users felt the moment was one of the most relatable the billionaire had ever demonstrated.