Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is the latest presidential hopeful to slam billionaire Michael Bloomberg for spending tens of thousands of dollars on television ads to promote his late jump into the 2020 race.
The former New York City mayor has “plans to buy a nomination in the Democratic Party,” Warren said Monday in a rare attack on an opponent while speaking at a a community meeting in Ankeny, Iowa.
“Michael Bloomberg is making a bet about democracy in 2020,” she continued. “He doesn’t need people. He only needs bags and bags of money. I think Michael Bloomberg is wrong, and that’s what we need to prove in this election.”
Bloomberg formally announced his campaign for president on Sunday, despite saying earlier this year that the field was already crowded and that he would instead put his resources into backing existing candidates who share his views.
Bloomberg plans to flood the airwaves with a $34 million-plus ad buy, as first reported by Politico last week. Analysts with the television ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics said it may be the biggest ad buy of all time, amounting to more spending per day than some presidential candidates have spent on a whole campaign.
Bloomberg fired back at Warren’s remarks later on Monday.
“For years I’ve been using my resources for the things that matter to me,” he said at a campaign stop in Virginia. “I was lucky enough to build a successful company. It has been very successful, and I have used all of it to give back to help America.”
Fellow presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who like Warren has emphasized the importance of a grassroots campaign over massive spending, also criticized Bloomberg last week.
“I’m a little old-fashioned,” Sanders said in a statement. “I believe in democracy — one person, one vote. I’m disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any other billionaire thinks they can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy our elections. It’s just the latest example of a rigged political system that we are going to change when we’re in the White House.”
In the lead-up to Bloomberg’s campaign, his senior aides touted his wealth as a positive because it allows him to turn down all political donations, which could pose a conflict of interest if he’s elected.
“He has never taken a political contribution in his life. He is not about to start,” Bloomberg chief adviser Howard Wolfson told The Associated Press last week. “He cannot be bought.”
This article has been updated with Bloomberg’s comments at a Virginia campaign stop.