Two days after Sen. Bernie Sanders said he wouldn’t “disparage” his rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, the independent senator from Vermont seemed to rib the front-runner right now in the race, former Vice President Joe Biden, over high-dollar fundraisers.
In a fundraising email to supporters on Wednesday, Sanders spotlighted his campaign trip this week to Nevada, the first western state to voter in the primary and caucus calendar.
BERNIE SANDERS MAKES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS PITCH TO TOP DEMOCRATS IN MUST WIN PRIMARY STATE
“But I am not going to Nevada to attend a fundraiser hosted by a corporate CEO on the Las Vegas strip — I am going to Nevada to attend a rally with supporters and a town hall on immigration,” the populist senator emphasized.
While not mentioning Biden by name, it was clear Sanders was referring to the former vice president, who campaigned in Nevada three weeks ago. On that trip, Biden held a fundraiser at on the Las Vegas Strip that was hosted by MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren, a Republican. The CEO and other top executives of William Hill, the world’s biggest bookmaker, also co-hosted the fundraiser.
It was the second time in less than a week that the independent sentaor from Vermont and his campaign targeted Biden for his numerous top-dollar fundraising events from coast to coast.
BIDEN’S CAMPAIGN PACE CALLED INTO QUESTION
In a fundraising email on Friday to supporters titled “We risk falling behind,” Sanders campaign manager wrote that Biden’s “raising huge sums of money at large fundraising events all across the country. And these are not grassroots fundraising events.”
Faiz Shakir added that “these are high-dollar functions hosted and attended by corporate lobbyists, health care executives, a Republican casino-CEO, and a union-busting lawyer among others.”
Sanders’ Wednesday fundraising email came two days after the senator, at a campaign event in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire, said he knew most of his nearly two-dozen rivals for the Democratic nomination and stressed that “they are good people and you’re not going to get me to disparage them.”
In the month since he launched his third bid for the White House, the former vice president appears to have become Sanders’ favorite foil on the campaign trail. Besides fundraising, the senator has also criticized Biden for his past support of free trade deals, for his 2002 vote in support of the Iraq War, and for taking a “middle ground” approach to combating climate change.
Biden, the clear front-runner in the polls right now, has defended his record from attacks but has not directly fired back against Sanders or any of his other critics in the 2020 field.
Biden’s been raising big bucks through small-dollar online donations – his campaign last week touted their online contributions and said those kinds of contributions made up the lion’s share of the whopping $6.3 million it raised in the 24 hours after the former vice president announced his candidacy last month.
But Biden’s also been holding some high-profile, high-end fundraisers. On his first night as a White House contender, he raised $700,000 at the Philadelphia home of a Comcast executive. He also hauled in big bucks at a Hollywood finance event earlier this month and at two Florida fundraisers last week.
Wednesday night, during a campaign swing in Texas, Biden will headline a Dallas fundraiser hosted by some of the Lone Star state’s most prominent trial lawyers and political donors.
The former vice president’s expected to hold two major fundraisers in Boston on June 5, and two more in New York City on June 17, sources close to Biden’s inner circle told Fox News.
Fundraising was far from then-Sen. Biden’s wheelhouse in his unsuccessful White House runs in the 1988 and 2008 presidential cycles. But so far, the third time appears to be the charm, as Biden’s raking in big bucks both at traditional fundraisers with deep-pocketed donors — which he’s opened up to media coverage in a move for transparency — as well as through online contribution
The former vice president’s far from the only Democratic presidential candidate courting top donors. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are also holding behind closed doors finance events. And South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a one-time long-shot who’s surged in recent months, is also competing for big money.
Biden’s campaign has repeatedly pointed out they’re not accepting contributions from corporate political action committees or federally registered lobbyists.
The courting of wealthy donors used to be commonplace, but this time around, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – another top progressive contender – have criticized Biden and said no to those types of donations.
But Sanders reportedly has decided to now hold in-person fundraising events and has hired an official to oversee such finance events.