Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went head-to-head on Thursday over wealth and high-dollar fundraising in the sharpest clash of the debate thus far.
In an escalation of their simmering feud, Warren took aim at Buttigieg for holding a fundraiser in a wine cave in Napa, pointing out that although Buttigieg pledged to have open fundraisers, this one was closed.
“We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States,” Warren said. “Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.”
Buttigieg defended his campaign’s fundraisers, saying his campaign needs support from everybody looking to defeat President Trump in 2020.
“You know, according to Forbes Magazine, I am literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire,” Buttigieg responded. “This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass. If I pledged to never be in the company of a progressive, Democratic donor, I couldn’t be up here.”
“Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.”
— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) December 20, 2019
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 20, 2019
“Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine,” Buttigieg continued, adding that it would not be wrong if someone donated the maximum legal amount of money to his campaign.
“Would that pollute my campaign because it came from a wealthy person? No, I would be glad to have that support. We need the support from everybody who is committed to defeating Donald Trump,” he said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) jumped into the fray, saying she did not come to the debate to listen to Warren and Buttigieg spar.
“I’ve never even been to a wine cave. I’ve been to the wind cave in South Dakota, which I suggest you visit,” she said.