Sen. Elizabeth Warren is not mad, she’s just disappointed.
In the early stages of the 2020 presidential primary race, most of the top Democratic contenders promised to reject support from super PACs, the independent political groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money on behalf of their preferred candidates.
That included Joe Biden — until this week. Amid slipping fundraising and polling numbers, as well as increased attacks from President Donald Trump, the former vice president’s campaign announced Thursday that it was dropping its opposition to super PAC support
Without mentioning Biden by name, Warren called the move discouraging in a series of tweets late Thursday night.
“It’s disappointing that any Democratic candidate would reverse course and endorse the use of unlimited contributions from the wealthy to run against fellow Democrats,” the Massachusetts senator wrote. “A handful of wealthy donors should not be allowed to buy the Democratic nomination. That’s not who we are.”
In a follow-up tweet, Warren — whose presidential campaign has taken a hard line against big-money donors, swearing off super PACs and traditional fundraisers through the general election — called on her Democratic opponents to join her in rejecting super PACs.
“The Democratic primary should belong to grassroots supporters and grassroots donors, not the rich and powerful,” she wrote, circulating a petition against super PACs.
The Democratic primary should belong to grassroots supporters and grassroots donors, not the rich and powerful.
Every Democratic candidate should agree: Super PACs have no place in our primary. https://t.co/YnFP8KxjkS
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 25, 2019
As recently as late last month, Biden’s campaign had agreed, even if amid mounting attacks from Trump and his Republican allies targeting the former vice president over his son’s work in Ukraine (Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate unsubstantiated claims of corruption by the Bidens has resulted in House Democrats opening an impeachment inquiry into the president’s actions). Some supporters had reportedly been considering launching a super PACs to help defend Biden against the attacks, despite the campaign’s opposition.
“The attacks aimed at this campaign from dark money groups helping Donald Trump spread his outlandish lies and slander have only served as a reminder of the urgent need for campaign finance reform,” T.J Ducklo, a Biden spokesman, told The New York Times at the time. “Which is exactly why since the beginning of this campaign, Biden for President has not and will not welcome the help of super PACs. That goes for those that purport to help him, despite his explicit condemnation of their existence.”
Biden’s campaign has since seen Warren pull even with, if not surpass, him in a number of national and early-voting state primary polls, and recently released fundraising numbers showed his campaign lagging behind other top-tier candidates, both in terms of contributions and the amount of cash it had left to spend.
In a statement to several media outlets Thursday, the campaign said Biden remained committed to campaign finance reforms to “remove private money” from federal elections and “end the era of unbridled spending by Super PACs.” But in the meantime, it opened the door to their support.
“Until we have these badly needed reforms, we will see more than a billion dollars in spending by Trump and his allies to re-elect this corrupt president,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, according to NBC News, which first reported the statement.
“And let’s be clear: Donald Trump has decided that the general election has already begun,” Bedingfield said. “In this time of crisis in our politics, it is not surprising that those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump are organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency. Nothing changes unless we defeat Donald Trump.”
While no pro-Biden super PAC has yet been launched, NBC News and others have reported his allies are increasingly prepared to do so.
Sen. Bernie Sanders — who, like Warren, has also rejected super PACs and fundraisers to support his campaign — also forcefully criticized the role of money of politics, when asked about the Biden campaign’s reversal during a rally Thursday in Iowa.