Bernie Sanders Calls Out Pete Buttigieg And His Billionaire Donors, Says Mike Bloomberg Is Trying To Buy The Election

During a campaign event in New Hampshire, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called out South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg for accepting donations from billionaires and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg for trying to "buy the election."

Sanders spoke at the "Politics and Eggs" breakfast at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College, according to the Huffington Post.

During the breakfast, Sanders remarked that while he liked Buttigieg, accepting donations from billionaires was troubling. "I like Pete Buttigieg, but we are in a moment where billionaires control not only our economy but our political [system]," he said, after reading off headlines emphasizing Buttigieg's billionaire support including: "Pete Buttigieg lures even closer look from Wall Street donors following strong Iowa caucuses performance" from The Washington Post and "Pete Buttigieg tops billionaire donor list" from The Hill.

Buttigieg's campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment.

During an appearance on The Late Show, Buttigieg defended accepting large donations from billionaires. "I'm not a fan of the campaign finance system we have today," he told Stephen Colbert. "I'm also a fan of beating Donald Trump."

Buttigieg also said that regardless of whether someone was making a small donation or the maximum allowable by law, he was "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."

Sanders also criticized Bloomberg for spending his own money on the campaign. "He is spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the election," the Vermont senator said. "There's something wrong with that...How do we feel about living in a so-called democracy when a billionaire―multibillionaire, 55 billion―can spend unlimited sums of money?"

A Bloomberg campaign spokesperson called Sanders' comments insulting, in a comment to Newsweek. "American voters can't be bought and it's insulting to imply that they could be. Our campaign has always been focused on Super Tuesday and beyond and we are proud to have built a massive operation in some of the biggest battleground states, which will be critical to defeating Trump in November," Bloomberg campaign spokesperson Sabrina Singh told Newsweek.

Sanders has made similar comments about Bloomberg earlier in his campaign. In a speech on Thursday, Sanders criticized the DNC for altering the rules for the Nevada debate to forgo the donor threshold. "Now, suddenly, a guy comes in who does not campaign one bit in Iowa, New Hampshire. He's not on the ballot, I guess, in Nevada or South Carolina, but he's worth $55 billion. I guess if you're worth $55 billion, you can get the rules changed for the debate," he said.

Sanders also said his campaign sided with the working class and would take on the "greed and corruption of the billionaire class."

"Are you on the side of a working-class of this country, which has been battered for the last 45 years?" Sanders asked the audience. "Are you willing to take on the greed and corruption of the billionaire class and the 1%, or will you continue to stand with the big-money interests? That is what this campaign is about."

The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during Politics and Eggs at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College on February 07, 2020, in Manchester, New Hampshire. Justin Sullivan/Getty