Bernie Sanders hits Pete Buttigieg over wealthy donors ahead of New Hampshire debate
Posted February 7, 2020 2:57 p.m. EST
CNN — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday attacked former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for accepting money from wealthy donors, zeroing in on a direct contrast between the two candidates and previewing a sharper line of attack hours before they face off on the debate stage in New Hampshire.
Speaking at Politics and Eggs in Manchester, Sanders read out a variety of headlines that depicted Buttigieg as cozying up to moneyed interests. With Sanders and Buttigieg emerging as the top tier candidates out of Iowa, the Vermont senator took the opportunity Friday morning while speaking in a room adorned with corporate banners to squarely contrast himself with Buttigieg, and shape the narrative about the relationship each candidate has with corporate interests.
"This campaign is about which side are you on," Sanders told the crowd, referencing the Woody Guthrie song. "Are you on the side of the working class of this country, which has been battered for the last 45 years, are you willing to take on the greed and corruption of the billionaire class and the one percent, or will you continue to stand with the big money?"
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The headlines Sanders read aloud included a Forbes article detailing how Buttigieg has the most exclusive billionaire donors of any Democrat, an article from the Washington Post about how after a strong performance in Iowa, Buttigieg is "[luring]" even closer to Wall Street donors, and a Forbes article revealing the list of billionaires that support Buttigieg's campaign.
"I like Pete Buttigieg, nice guy," Sanders said after ticking through the list of headlines. "But we are in a moment where billionaires control not only our economy but our political life."
After the event, the Sanders campaign debuted a new hashtag on Twitter, #PetesBillionaires, which included screenshots of the headlines Sanders had read during his speech.
Although Sanders has accused Buttigieg of being bought and paid for by big money before, namely after Buttigieg held a fundraiser in a wine cave in December, Sanders' unprompted attack today takes on new meaning as the 2020 primary heats up and these two candidates have emerged in a tier of their own.
When asked to respond to Sanders' attacks ,the Buttigieg campaign pointed to the former mayor's comments made on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday about campaign finance reform.
"I understand the frustration and I'm not a fan of the campaign finance system we have today. I'm also a fan of beating Donald Trump," Buttigieg said on The Late Show. "I will make exactly one promise to anybody, whether they're giving three bucks online or the maximum allowable by law, and the promise is I'm going to take that contribution and I'm going to use it to build the campaign that's going to defeat Donald Trump so that we can actually get the reforms that this country needs."