Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg attacked each other over 'wine cave' fundraisers and taking money from mega-rich donors

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after each other on campaign finance issues during Thursday night's Democratic debate in Los Angeles. 
  • Warren began the debate by attacking the mayor for raising campaign cash from wealthy donors, in part through private fundraisers. 
  • "We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States," Warren said. 
  • Buttigieg responded in part by noting that he's the only candidate on stage who's not a millionaire or a billionaire. "Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine," he told Warren. 
  • Warren responded, "I do not sell access to my time."  

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after each other about campaign finance issues during Thursday night's Democratic debate in Los Angeles. 

Warren began by criticizing the mayor for raising campaign cash from wealthy donors, in part through private fundraisers. 

"The mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and $900 a bottle wine," Warren  said, referring to a Napa, California donor dinner Buttigieg held last weekend. "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." 

Buttigieg responded by noting that he's the only candidate on stage who's not a millionaire or a billionaire. 

"This is the problem with issuing purity tests you yourself cannot pass," he added. 

Buttigieg went on to argue that Warren transferred millions of dollars she'd raised for her Senate campaigns, which were not restricted to small-dollar donors, to her presidential campaign. He said that Warren's campaign finance rules would handicap Democratic candidates in a race in which their Republican opponent is raising record sums. 

"I do not sell access to my time," Warren replied.

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Democratic debate, December 2019
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Democratic debate, December 2019
Democratic presidential candidates from left, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and businessman Tom Steyer stand on stage before a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden waves to the crowd after a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., waves from the stage before a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Democratic presidential candidates from left, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and businessman Tom Steyer participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Democratic presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speak during a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Democratic presidential candidates from left, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and businessman Tom Steyer vie to answer questions during a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
La senadora Elizabeth Warren, representante de Massachusetts, habla mientras la escucha Pete Buttigieg, alcalde de la ciudad de South Bend, durante un debate de aspirantes a la candidatura presidencial demócrata, el jueves 19 de diciembre de 2019, en Los Ángeles. (AP Foto/Chris Carlson)
Democratic presidential candidates from left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and businessman Tom Steyer participate during a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, and former Vice President Joe Biden stand on stage during a break at a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 19: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks with Tom Steyer during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Seven candidates out of the crowded field qualified for the 6th and last Democratic presidential primary debate of 2019 hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 19: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) react during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Seven candidates out of the crowded field qualified for the 6th and last Democratic presidential primary debate of 2019 hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 19: Journalists watch South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak on a monitor during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Seven candidates out of the crowded field qualified for the 6th and last Democratic presidential primary debate of 2019 hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang poses for a selfie after a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to the press in the spin room after the sixth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by PBS NewsHour & Politico at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California on December 19, 2019. (Photo by Agustin PAULLIER / AFP) (Photo by AGUSTIN PAULLIER/AFP via Getty Images)
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A CNN reporter later pointed out that Buttigieg's Napa fundraiser was open to a press pool and one reporter sent out notes from the event to the larger group of reporters. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar then jumped in to argue that Democrats should come together over their shared support for campaign finance reform. 

"I did not come here to listen to this argument," she said. "I came here to make a case for progress. And I have never even been to a wine cave, I've been to the wind cave in South Dakota, which I suggest you go to." 

She added that campaign finance reform "unites us up here, instead of what divides us." 

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