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Warren: Sanders 'has a lot of questions to answer' about supporters' attacks

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By Ali Vitali and Molly Roecker  with NBC News Politics
Image: Elizabeth Warren Campaigns In Nevada Ahead Of Caucus
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a Mi Familia Votas #Prioridades2020 Community Event at Cardenas Market on Feb. 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.   -   Copyright  Alex Wong Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — Bernie Sanders "has a lot of questions to answer" regarding how his supporters attacked members of the Culinary 226 union online after they criticized his Medicare For All healthcare plan, Elizabeth Warren said Monday.

"I've said before that we are all responsible for what our supporters do, and I think Bernie has a lot of questions to answer here," Warren told NBC News in an interview in which she offered rare criticism for her fellow progressive, Sanders.

"I am particularly worried about what happened in the attacks on members of the culinary union, particularly on the women in leadership," Warren said. "That is not how we build an inclusive Democratic party. ... We do not build on a foundation of hate."

Members of the union that represents 60,000 workers in Nevada's gaming and hospitality industries said this week that Sanders' supporters had "viciously attacked" its members after leadership warned about the risk to their negotiated health plans under a Medicare for All system.

Sanders has said the attacks on Culinary leadership were "not acceptable."

"I don't know who these so-called supporters are," he told PBS in an interview Thursday. "We're living in a strange world on the Internet. And sometimes people attack people in somebody else's name. But let me be very clear. Anybody making personal attacks against anybody else in my name is not part of my movement."

While Warren isn't the only candidate to criticize how Sanders has handled the so-called "Bernie Bros" online culture — former Vice President Joe Biden also urged Sanders to take accountability for "misogynistic" attacks — it marks a new willingness to draw stark contrasts with Sanders at a crucial point in the Democratic primary race. Warren finished third in the Iowa caucus and fourth in New Hampshire and is looking to reinvigorate her campaign in the upcoming Nevada, South Carolina, and Super Tuesday contests.

That could begin with an appearance on the debate stage; the cycle's ninth gathering of candidates, this one hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. And after Sen. Amy Klobuchar boosted her fortunes with a strong debate performance in New Hampshire, the pressure is on for candidates to deliver.

But some Warren supporters wonder if being more "aggressive" on the stage is a winning formula.

"I think women get a bad rap when they are aggressive," Sandy Laboy said Monday at a Warren campaign event.

"This is what women face all the time," Warren said. "It's always too much of this or too much of that. But you put your head down, doing your job and you keep on going. Or you might say: We persist."