Sanders on Steyer's 2020 bid: 'Tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power'

Sanders on Steyer's 2020 bid: 'Tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (I-Vt.) on Tuesday praised Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerBiden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina Buttigieg to attend MLK Day event in South Carolina after facing criticism Poll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire MORE after the billionaire philanthropist entered the 2020 presidential race but criticized the notion of a billionaire running for the White House.

“I like Tom personally, but I do have to say as somebody who in this campaign has received 2 million contributions, averaging $19 a person, I'm a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in an interview.

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Steyer announced Tuesday that he would pursue the Democratic presidential nomination, reversing course after saying months ago that he would not. 

The former hedge fund manager has funded political projects and Democratic campaigns for years.

He has been especially involved with an effort to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE.

Sanders has eschewed high-dollar fundraisers and took in $18 million in the second quarter of 2019 from more than 1 million contributions, 99 percent of which were $100 or less, according to his campaign.

The Vermont lawmaker has framed much of his campaign rhetoric and policy positions in opposition to extreme accumulation of wealth by a few Americans when others struggle with basic necessities.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.), who has also rejected big-money fundraisers and managed to bring in significant donations, also seemed to criticized Steyer’s entry to the race, although she did not call him out by name.
 
“The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires, whether they’re funding Super PACs or funding themselves,” the Massachusetts lawmaker tweeted. “The strongest Democratic nominee in the general will have a coalition that’s powered by a grassroots movement.”

Steyer is worth an estimated $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

In 2010, he and his wife, Kat Taylor, signed “The Giving Pledge,” vowing to donate “the bulk of our assets to philanthropic activities carried out over the course of our lifetimes.”