Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had this exchange:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you’ve been making that case against the candidates who are taking money from billionaires, you made it at the debate, you’ve been making it all through the campaign. We just had Mayor [Pete] Buttigieg on. And he made no apologies for doing what he’s doing. He says it’s important to build the biggest coalition you can.WARREN: You know, the coalition of billionaires is not exactly what's going carry us over the top.The way I see it right now is that we have a government that works great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. And that’s been true for decades, it’s gotten worse and worse and worse. So, we now have companies like Amazon and Eli Lilly and Halliburton that report billions of dollars in profits, pay nothing in taxes. …People, Democrats and Republicans, get that they’re getting the short end of the stick. And what’s the reason for that? It’s corruption. It’s a Washington that makes — it’s a bunch of billionaires that make big campaign contributions or reach in their own pockets, like Michael Bloomberg does.Here’s the thing. If it’s going to take sucking up to billionaires or being a billionaire to get the Democratic nomination to run for president, then all I can say is, buckle up, America, because our government is going to work even better for billionaires and even worse for everyone else.
She would rather be pristine, I suppose, and allow Trump a second term.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on “Face the Nation” declared, “Last count, [Buttigieg] has about 40 billionaires who are contributing to his campaign, the CEOs of the large pharmaceutical industries, of the insurance companies and so forth.” He added, “It matters enormously. That is precisely the problem with American politics.” Actually, some might say the problem with American politics is that an authoritarian, vengeful president is in the White House, enabled by cowardly members of Congress. (Sanders has a super PAC raising dark money for him, which he says is independent.)
To all this preening, former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg sounded a note of sanity. He was asked on ABC about the attacks:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about Bernie Sanders. He attacked you by name, I think, for one of first times yesterday, saying you have billionaires by the dozen contributing to your campaign, and the guy is getting a lot of money from pharmaceutical CEOs, can’t bring about real change.BUTTIGIEG: Look, I have never hesitated to stand up. As a matter of fact, we sued pharmaceutical companies for what they did to our community in the opioid crisis.I’m also putting together the campaign that’s going to defeat Donald Trump. Trump and his allies are doing everything they can to hold on to power. They raised 25 million bucks in one day.And if somebody wants to donate to a campaign, especially if they know that I’m going to raise their taxes and they’re going to donate anyway, fine, we need to accept and encourage and welcome help from everybody who’s part of this cause. … Someone like the mayor of South Bend does not become a major presidential candidate as an establishment powerhouse. We’re here because we built a movement and that’s what’s going to carry us to the White House.
He repeated that same message on CNN. “Well, Bernie’s pretty rich, and I would happily accept a contribution from him. Look, this is about making sure we bring everybody into the fight at a moment when we’re going to be going up against Donald Trump, who with his allies are raising, I think the other day they raised 25 million bucks in one day.” He added, “This is the fight of our lives. I’m not a fan of the current campaign finance system, but I’m also insistent that we have got to go into this with all of the support we can get. And, by the way, my campaign is where it is because hundreds of thousands of individuals — no corporate PACs — individuals, have contributed through PeteforAmerica.com.”
Well, someone has a clue about what the Democrats will need to do to beat Trump. A senior adviser to Mike Bloomberg on Sunday told me, “First, what Democrats really want is someone with the strength and message to beat Donald Trump.” He adds, “Mike has always said, ‘Look, do you want me spending more money or less [to beat Trump]?’” The adviser also stresses, “He grew up in a middle-class household in Medford, Massachusetts, where his father never made more than $6,000 a year. … He built an enterprise from scratch that employs 20,000. That’s the American Dream.”
Sanders and Warren seem more interested in besting each other and their rivals in the purity Olympics than in figuring out how to amass the small fortune it will take to beat Trump. Whether by fundraising (where Buttigieg has shown success) or by spending his own money as Bloomberg has done (promising to “spend whatever it takes”), Democrats will need someone who fully appreciates what they are up against. Democratic voters who want to win more than anything else would be well advised to find a candidate who does as well.