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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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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Elizabeth Warren to Mayor Pete: "Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States!" pic.twitter.com/w9dmVhy0bm