Buttigieg vs. Warren on "Wine Cave" Fundraiser: You're "Issuing Purity Tests You Cannot Yourself Pass" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Buttigieg vs. Warren on "Wine Cave" Fundraiser: You're "Issuing Purity Tests You Cannot Yourself Pass"


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigeig (D-IN) get into it over donors and fancy fundraisers at the PBS NewsHour/Politico Democratic presidential primary debate. The argument started when Warren brought out a "wine cave" fundraiser Buttigeig held that was not open to the public.

POLITICO CORRESPONDENT TIM ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Senator Warren, you would be the oldest president ever inaugurated I'd like you to weigh in as well.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I'd also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated.


I believe that President Obama was talking about who has power in America, whose voices get heard. I believe he's talking about women and people of color and trans people and people whose voices just so often get shoved out.

And for me, the best way to understand that is to look at how people are running their campaigns in 2020. You know, I made the decision when I decided to run not to do business as usual. And now, I'm proud (INAUDIBLE) on 100,000 selfies. That's 100,000 hugs and handshakes and stories. Stories from people who are struggling with student loan debt, stories from people who can't pay their medical bills. Stories from people who can't find childcare.

Now, most of the people on this stage run a traditional campaign. And that means going back and forth from coast to coast to rich people and people who can put up 5000 bucks or more in order to have a picture taken, in order to have a conversation and in order maybe to be considered to be an ambassador.

ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Warren.

WARREN: Those selfies don't--I want to finish this. Those selfies cost nobody anything and I get it. In a democracy we all have a lot of different points of view and everybody gets one vote. But here's the thing, people who can put down $5000 to have a picture taken don't have the same priorities as people who are struggling with student loan debt or struggling to pay off medical debt.
I want--I'm running a campaign where people whose voices get heard. We can't have--

ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Warren.

WARREN: --we can't have--we can't have people who can put down $5000 for a check drown out the voices of everyone else.

ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Warren.

WARREN: They don't, in my campaign and they won't in my White House.


ALBERTA: You got your hand raised.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, SOUTH BEND, IND. MAYOR: Can't help but feel that might have been directed at me. And here's the thing, we're in the fight of our lives right now. Donald Trump and his allies have made it abundantly clear that they will stop at nothing not even foreign interference to hold onto power.

They've already put together more than $300 million. This is our chance. This is our only chance to defeat Donald Trump. And we shouldn't try to do it with one hand tied behind our back. The way we are going to win is to bring everybody to our side in this fight.
If that means that you are a grad student digging deep to go online to peteforamerica.com and chip in 10 bucks that's great. And if you can drop $1000 without blinking, that's great too. We need everybody's help in this fight.

I'm not going to turn away anyone who wants to help us defeat Donald Trump. We need Democrats who have been with us all along. We also need independents worried about the direction of the country. If you are a Republican, disgusted with what is going on in your own party we are not going to agree on everything but we need you in this fight and I will welcome you to our side.


ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Senator Warren, 45 seconds to respond.

WARREN: So, the Mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900 a bottle wine. Think about who comes to that. He had promised that every fundraiser he would do would be open door but this one was closed door.
We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke filled rooms would not pick the next President of the United States.


Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next President of the United States.

ALBERTA: Mr. Mayor, your response?

BUTTIGIEG: You know, according to Forbes Magazine I am the literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire.


So if--this is important. This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass.


If I pledge, if I pledge never to be in the company of a progressive Democratic donor I couldn't be up here. Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine. Now supposing that you went home feeling the holiday spirit, I know this isn't likely but stay with me--and decided to go onto peteforamerica.com, and give the maximum allowable by law, $2800. 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 helping us defeat Donald Trump.


ALBERTA: We would--we would like to bring everyone but obviously, Senator Warren want to give you a chance to respond.

WARREN: I do not sell access to my time. I don't do call time with millionaires and billionaires.

BUTTIGIEG: As a--as a --


WARREN: I don't need--I don't meet behind closed doors with big dollar donors. And look, I'm taking one that ought to be an easy step for everyone here. I said to everyone that wants to donate to me if you want to donate to me that's fine but don't come around later expecting to be named Ambassador. Because that's what goes on in these high dollar fundraisers.

I said no and I asked everybody on this stage to join me. This ought to be an easy step and here is the problem--if you can't stand up and take the steps that are relatively easy can't stand up to the wealthy and well connected when it's relatively easy when you are a candidate--then how can the American people believe you're going to stand up to the wealthy and well connected when you're president and it's really hard.


BUTTIGIEG: I got to respond to this. First of all if you can't say no to a donor then you have no business running for office in the first place.

But also, Senator, your presidential campaign right now as we speak is funded in party by money you transferred having raised it at those exact same big ticket fundraisers you now denounce. Did it corrupt you, Senator? Of course not.

So to denounce the same kind of fundraising guidelines that President Obama went by, that Speaker Pelosi goes by that you yourself went by until not long ago in order to build the Democratic party and to build a campaign ready for the fight of our lives. These purity tests shrink the stakes of the most important elections.

WARREN: Judy--


ALBERTA: Senator Klobuchar, you had your hand up first. I'd like to call on you.

KLOBUCHAR: I did not come here to listen to this argument. I came here to make a case for progress. And I have never even been to a wine cave.


I have been to the wind cave in South Dakota which I suggest you go to. So, what is making a case for progress about? That is what unites us up here instead of what divides us which is campaign finance reform.

Show comments Hide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives