Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg tussled Thursday night over high-dollar fundraisers, zinging each other over wine caves, hypocrisy and personal wealth.
In a continuation of a fight that has roiled the Democratic presidential field for weeks, Warren and Buttigieg traded barbs at the PBS NewsHour/POLITICO debate. “We can’t have people who can put down $5,000 for a check drown out the voices of everyone else,” said Warren, who has sworn off high-dollar fundraisers in her campaign.
She made sure to note Buttigieg’s recent fundraiser “in a wine cave full of crystals [that] served $900-a-bottle wine.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and businessman Andrew Yang jumped into the pile-on too, with Yang saying his universal basic income proposal would get more women to run for office “because they don’t have to go shake the money tree in the wine cave.”
But Buttigieg punched right back, arguing that Democrats shouldn’t unilaterally disarm a potential source of financial support against the GOP.
He said he was the only non-millionaire or -billionaire on stage, and noted that Warren had taken money from big donors during her Senate campaign: “This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass.”
The debate’s first moments of direct confrontation quickly looped in most of the candidates on stage. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) hijacked the Warren and Buttigieg back-and-forth to call for campaign finance policy reform. Sanders slammed former Vice President Joe Biden and Buttigieg for attracting the support of dozens of billionaire fundraisers.
And Biden defended himself against Sanders’ attack: “The idea that the senator suggested, that I am in the pocket of billionaires, when in fact they oppose everything that I have ever done and continue to do,” he said, “I have made sure from the very beginning every one of my fundraisers is open to the press, every single solitary one.”
Businessman Tom Steyer rounded out the conversation Thursday night by shrugging at the whole debate. “There’s someone who is loving this conversation, and his name’s Donald Trump,” he warned.
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