WASHINGTONÂ â€“ Billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg defended himself fromÂ backlash from some of his fellow 2020 Democratic presidential primary challengers for self-funding his campaign, saying that,Â “They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money.”
“And how much of their own money do they put into their campaigns?â€ Bloomberg askedÂ in an interview on CBS,Â his first televised interview since entering the race last week.Â
â€œIâ€™m doing exactly the same thing theyâ€™re doing, except that I am using my own money,â€ he continued. â€œTheyâ€™re using somebody elseâ€™s money and those other people expect something from them. Nobody gives you money if they donâ€™t expect something. And I donâ€™t want to be bought.â€
Some Democratic contendersÂ have expressed criticism that Bloomberg and fellow billionaire candidate Tom Steyer â€” who has also largely self-fundedÂ his campaignâ€”Â have an unfair advantage because they don’t need to fundraise or rely on donations in order to remain in the race.
Candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,Â and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have shunned away from large-donor events, and both have proposedÂ taxing the wealthy.
Warren, appearing on Bloomberg Television, took a dig at the company’s founder and owner, “I donâ€™t believe that elections ought to be for sale, and I donâ€™t think as a Democratic Party that we should say that the only way youâ€™re going to get elected, the only way youâ€™re going to be our nominee, is either if you are a billionaire or if youâ€™re suckingÂ up toÂ billionaires.”
She then aired an ad aimed at Bloomberg, which aired on Bloomberg TV, sayingÂ “Some people have figured out, you know, it would be a lot cheaper to spend a few hundred mil just buying the presidency instead of paying that 2% wealth tax.”
After Sen. Kamala Harris,Â D-Calif.,Â dropped out of the race, she made a dig at Bloomberg and Steyer.Â
“My campaign for president simply doesnâ€™t have the financial resources we need to continue,” she told supporters. “Iâ€™m not a billionaire. I canâ€™t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, itâ€™s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”
Fellow candidate Sen.Â Cory Booker, D-N.J.,Â expressed frustration afterÂ Harris exited the race, quipping, “Thereâ€™s more billionaires in the 2020 race than there are black people.” The stage for the December Democratic debate, so far, is only made up of white candidates following Harris’Â departure.Â
Bloomberg has spent more than $57 millionÂ since he announced he was running a few weeks ago in ad time, nearly outspending almost every other Democratic candidate.Â
The former New York City Mayor told CBS’ Gayle King that he “watched all of the candidates, and I just thought to myself, ‘Donald Trump would eat them up.'”
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