AMES, Iowa — Cornel West campaigned here Wednesday for Sen. Bernard Sanders, counseling voters against buying into what he called the shady ways in which the Vermont socialist’s rivals are trying to sow division in the 2020 Democratic presidential race and his political revolution.
The word of caution from the fiery black scholar and activist follows a he-said-she-said, clash between Mr. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren that spilled onto the debate stage this week over whether he told her that a woman couldn’t win the presidency.
The debate ended with post-debate hot-mic moment, which CNN released Wednesday night, that showed Ms. Warren accuse Mr. Sanders of calling her “a liar on national television” because he disagreed with her version of events. Mr. Sanders was taken aback, saying they should have that conversation another time, and reminding her that “you called me a liar.”
Less than 24 hours later, Mr. West and Nina Turner, national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, were here on the campus of Iowa State University vouching for the 78-year-old’s integrity.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. was very much like Bernie Sanders,” Mr. West told the dozens that turned out for the event. “It was about honesty in the face of deception. It is not about mendacity. It is not about being too arrogant, condescending.”
He continued: “When you think of the Bernie Sanders’ campaign, you should think first and foremost about the longevity of his integrity, the longevity of his honesty, decency, the longevity of his courage.”
Asked afterward about the Warren-Sanders feud, Mr. West stayed relatively mum, telling The Washington Times, “This campaign is all about solidarity.”
The end of the political alliance between the darlings of the far-left has added more drama to a fluid race less than three weeks from the Iowa caucuses.
Heading into the debate, the Sanders and Warren campaigns, which were thought to be competing for a similar pool of liberal voters, appeared to be heading in opposite directions. Mr. Sanders has been gaining in the polls since the fall, while Ms. Warren has been slipping.
Mr. Sanders also has been steadily racking up endorsements from key environmentalist, labor unions, and advocacy groups that will be crucial to getting his supporters to the polls in the early states.
The latest support came Wednesday from Make the Road Action, a national immigrant-rights group, and TakeAction Minnesota, a liberal advocacy group.
“We have been organizing to survive and organizing to live, but now we really want to organize to transform society and transform our lives,” said Adilka Pimentel, a Make the Road Action member. “Bernie Sanders is really that person that we feel will lead us.”
Other groups that have thrown their support to Mr. Sanders this week include the Clark County Education Association in Nevada and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 in New Hampshire, which broke with the national Service Employees International Union to back Mr. Sanders as well.
Looking to turn the tide in the last debate before the Feb. 3 caucuses, Ms. Warren used the falling out with Mr. Sanders as a way to appeal to female voters.
She said a woman could be president and took the issue of electability head-on by highlighting how she and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota were the only candidates on the debate stage that had never lost an election.
“Look at the men on this stage: Collectively, they have lost 10 elections,” Ms. Warren said. “The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women, Amy and me.”
RoseAnn DeMoro, a Sanders backer, told the Times Wednesday that Ms. Warren is trying to divide the electorate on gender lines.
“I think her calculation is an attempt to pull women into her camp by portraying herself as a victim, which she definitely is not,” she said. “Our country is greatly divided. Warren attempting to deepen those divisions for self-promotion is horrendous.”
Speaking here Wednesday, Ms. Turner, the Sanders campaign co-chair, took veiled shots at Ms. Warren, warning voters to be on the lookout for “faux feminism” and saying “we cannot allow people, even people who you might like, to divide us.”
“Sometimes good folks do bad things,” Ms. Turner said, making the case that Mr. Sanders’ record speaks for itself. “He is honest, he tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”