At least Elizabeth Warren is honest about her hypocrisy. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked the Democratic presidential contender last night about her recent declaration that she would not solicit donations from deep-pocket donors. “Candidates spend too much time with wealthy donors, and I’ve made a decision to change that,” Warren wrote in a campaign e-mail. “That means no fancy receptions or big money fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks.”
Hayes seemed mystified as to why Warren’s making this stand now, rather than during her two runs at the Senate seat from Massachusetts. The issue is situational, Warren explains — and then says those rules won’t apply if she wins the nomination. Huh?
Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren admits she's a hypocrite on campaign financepic.twitter.com/Lw6S5yse7b
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 26, 2019
“I don’t believe in unilateral disarmament,” Warren tells Hayes, who’s clearly nonplussed by Warren’s position.
HAYES: So this just applies to the primary, right? Were you to get the nomination —
WARREN: This is the primary —
HAYES: — or anyone else get the nomination, just raise all the money you can, however you can. [laughs]
WARREN: Yes, but here’s what I want you to see that’s different about it, Chris. Think about the difference once we’re down to the two candidates. If the Democrats have spent the next year in a primary, building this thing face to face, person to person, neighbor to neighbor across the country, think of the kind of foundation that we have laid down, so that when we’re really up against it in the general election, it’s not just money to fund television ads, it’s all the folks who’ll do the door-knocking. It’s all the folks who’ll make the phone calls.
Funny, that’s not what Warren was promising earlier yesterday. Before her appearance on All In, Warren sold it as a way to keep the wealthy from buying access to her, and then hopefully by example to other Democrats:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced Monday that she will not participate in a high-dollar fundraising program during her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, staking out a position that differentiates her from most other contenders in the field. …
“It means that wealthy donors won’t be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events.”
Eschewing traditional fundraising during the primary race will provide Warren with a potentially potent talking point on the stump, bolster her self-definition as a fighter for the working class and free up a significant amount of time in early states to organize and meet voters.
Warren’s backpedal to Hayes makes no sense at all. She argues that she’ll do this in the primaries in order to build her army for the general election, at which point Warren will gladly welcome wealthy donors to get access to her while all the little people do the hard work in the trenches. Even the “unilateral disarmament” comment is hypocritical; she’s unilaterally disarming in the primaries, after all, so she clearly “believes” in it under some conditions.
This makes no sense at all … except as an excuse for poor fundraising. The Washington Post notes that she’s already missing her fundraising targets, while Bernie Sanders has raised more than $6 million from the small donors she seeks. This looks like an attempt to turn a failure into a noble virtue — a noble virtue that is for sale later on down the road, of course.
Addendum: Warren’s correct about the way to build a winning campaign, though it doesn’t require dissing deep-pocket donors. Hillary Clinton failed to follow Barack Obama’s example on this in 2016, just as Mitt Romney did in 2012, a failure I outlined in my book Going Red.