Bernie Sanders Attacks Pete Buttigieg Over Campaign Contributions From Billionaires, Wall Street, Big Pharma

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders participates in the presidential primary debate in the Sullivan Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

On Friday night, during the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary debate in New Hampshire, an interesting exchange between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg took place.

Per The Daily Beast, the moderators kicked off the discussion by asking about the billionaire and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. The former New York City mayor’s presence in the primary is redefining the conversation, given that he is spending record amounts of money on television, radio, and social media advertisements.

Sanders took a shot at Bloomberg — who did not qualify for the New Hampshire debate — then took one at Buttigieg. The senator hit the young mayor for accepting campaign contributions from billionaires, Wall Street, and the pharmaceutical industry, pointing out that his campaign is fully grassroots funded.

“Unlike some of the campaigns up here, Pete, I don’t have 40 billionaires funding my campaign coming from the pharmaceutical industry and Wall Street.”

“What we do have is 6 million contributions from 1.5 million people averaging $18.50 a contribution,” Sanders added. Buttigieg attempted to defend himself by arguing that he has sparred with the pharmaceutical industry in the past while suggesting that campaign contributions from billionaires and special interests are necessary in order to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020.

Stating that he wants to “bring everyone into the fold,” Buttigieg said that he “will not pursue politics by telling people they can’t be by our side if they’re not with us 100 percent of the time. This is a time for addition, for belonging, not excluding.”

Although he does not accept campaign contributions from billionaires, Wall Street, or special interest groups, Sanders has raised more money than all other candidates. In fact, since entering the race, the senator has been the most prolific fundraiser. In January, as CNBC reported, he raised $25 million, which was his campaign’s biggest haul in a single month since the beginning of the primary.

Money does not appear to be an issue for Sanders’ campaign, but some of his strongest competitors are struggling. Former Vice President Joe Biden — who is leading in national polls — is reportedly in financial trouble.

Biden recently canceled an ad buy of $119,000 in South Carolina, signaling that his campaign is going through tough times and that donors have started abandoning him. The former vice president finished fourth in Iowa, behind Sanders, Buttigieg, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“I think Biden is struggling because now the weak performance is starting to become real,” Julian Zelizer, a professor of public affairs and history at Princeton University, explained for The Hill.