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California Gov. Newsom defends ‘wine caves’ after debate mention

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), a winery owner himself, defended “wine caves” after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democratic presidential candidates attacked them during Thursday’s debates.

Warren’s critiques focused on South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s fundraiser. The two are battling ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

“It’s my business. It’s how I started,” Newsom told HuffPost after the onstage clash between the candidates.

Newsom built a large-scale enterprise that includes wineries and a San Francisco wine shop, which was placed into a blind trust when he was elected governor in 2018, the outlet noted.

Newsom added that he owned a wine cave himself and touted California’s wine industry.

“It’s a point of pride. It’s one of America’s great exports,” the Democratic governor said. “I don’t know that it’s helpful to have those kinds of debates.”

The wine caves have became a point of contention among White House contenders because of the debate over money in politics.

Warren took a swipe at traditional high-dollar political fundraising, referencing a closed-door fundraiser for Buttigieg held “in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine.” 

“We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States,” she said. “Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the president of the United States.”

The fundraiser was held in a Napa Valley wine cave that features a chandelier with 1,500 Swarvoski crystals, HuffPost noted. It was hosted by former U.S. Ambassador to Austria Kathryn Hall, the wealthy co-owner of the winery. Hall was appointed by former President Clinton after being a prolific donor to the Democratic Party.

Buttigieg fired back by noting that he was the only candidate on the debate stage who was neither a millionaire nor a billionaire. He also noted that Warren raised money from wealthy donors for her Senate campaign, which was transferred to her presidential campaign account earlier this year.

“Senator, your presidential campaign right now as we speak is funded in part by money you transferred having raised it at those exact same big ticket fundraisers you denounce,” he said, addressing Warren. “Did it corrupt you, senator? Of course not.”

A website called peteswinecave.com surfaced shortly after the debate but it leads to to the Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue and options for donating to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Tags 2020 presidential election Bernie Sanders Bill Clinton California Campaign Fundraising Democratic debate Elizabeth Warren Gavin Newsom Pete Buttigieg

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