Sanders Plans to Hammer Buttigieg on Billionaire Donors

(Bloomberg) -- Bernie Sanders said he would hammer at Pete Buttigieg’s contributions from wealthy donors in the last few days of campaigning before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Buttigieg countered that Democrats must have ways to counter the massive fund-raising efforts of President Donald Trump.

“At last count he has about 40 billionaires who are contributing to his campaign,” the Vermont senator said of Buttigieg on CBS’s “Face the Nation“ on Sunday. “It matters enormously. That is precisely the problem with American politics.”

“Do you really think that when someone gets contributions from the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies, he’s going to stand up to the greed and corruption of that industry?” Sanders said.

Sanders conceded that the messy Iowa caucus system -- which has yet to produce a final result after six days of counting -- is a “sad state of affairs.” But he insisted that he won the state regardless of the number of delegates to come out of Iowa because he won the popular vote by 6,000 votes.

In a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sanders said the caucuses were “an embarrassment. It was a disgrace to the good people of Iowa.”

Still, he said he would support Buttigieg if the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor is the eventual Democratic nominee in November’s general election against Trump.

“I have said from the first day of this campaign that it is imperative that we defeat Donald Trump. Of course I’ll support the nominee.”

Sanders continued to push his Medicare for All plan. Although he wouldn’t be pinned down on an exact cost, he didn’t dispute an estimated price tag of $30 trillion to $40 trillion over 10 years. “Anybody who tells you what anything is going to cost is not telling you the truth. It’s so much. It’s so big.”

On CNN Buttigieg said that he’s raised money for his campaign after starting with very little. “I’m the mayor of South Bend, it’s not like that’s an establishment fund-raising powerhouse,” he said.

He also said that while he’s “not a fan” of the campaign finance system, he has to use it to fight Trump, who recently raised $25 million in a single day, and he argued that there’s nothing inherently wrong with accepting money from big donors.

“Bernie’s pretty rich, and I would happily accept a contribution from him,” he said.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Buttigieg defended accepting money from major donors as part of building a big tent, whether that’s someone who “chips in five bucks” or “a surgeon who can contribute $2,000 without it being much skin off their back.”

“I want everybody to help out,” he said. “I want everybody who shares that vision to be at our side.”

(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

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