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 SandersFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (I-Vt.) on Tuesday praised Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Steyer, Biden clash over climate credentials Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate 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 TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate 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 WarrenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate 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.”