Thursday's Democratic debate saw Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sparring with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg over high-dollar campaign donations, and scrutiny of Warren's position followed her to the spin room.
Though she has held closed-door fundraisers in the past, Warren pledged not to woo wealthy donors with private events and other special access in her primary race, a policy she says she'd continue in the general election, and has rejected outright contributions of more than $200 from executives at certain finance and tech companies. "I saw what it is that [such donors] expect in return," she told a skeptical CNN panel after the debate.
In '16, Clinton came under suspicion and was called elitist for doing so many big-dollar events.
In '20, Warren is totally grassroots funded, but now pundits find something suspicious and elitist about that too
Trying to figure out what they have in commonhttps://t.co/WpLmhku6fJ
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) December 20, 2019
"I don't sell access to my time, so whether you give me $5 or whatever is the maximum, I'm not spending my time doing call time; I'm not spending my time doing private conversations," Warren said, arguing not that billionaires' money is somehow tainted, but that it shouldn't be permitted to shape her campaign. She pushed back on the suggestion that this is, ironically, an "elitist" purity test, saying she'd never ask fellow Democrats to "unilaterally disarm" in a race against a Republican but does plan to hold her own candidacy to a higher standard.
Read The Week's Ryan Cooper on why that standard should be widely adopted for Democrats to escape the big money stranglehold.