As Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass continues to plunge in the polls, she has switched tactics a little and is going after two of her rivals. The identities of those two rivals, Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg and billionaire publisher Michael Bloomberg, are interesting to political observers.
According to NBC News, Warren is demanding that Buttigieg open access to his private fundraising events to the media.
“After her speech at the Democratic National Committee’s I Will Vote event in Boston, Warren called on Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to let the news media into his private campaign events ‘so that anyone can come in and report on what’s being said’ to big financial donors.”
The demand is considered by political observers to be a shrewd one. Presidential candidates have, from time to time, been tripped up by what they say in unguarded moments during private fund-raising events. These occasions are usually not covered by the press, but often someone who is there will leak. The classic example was when Mitt Romney while running for president in 2012, started that 47 percent of the American people would support then-President Barack Obama no matter what because they paid no income taxes and were dependent on government. Politifact found the statement to be true. The pundit class found the statement to be elitist and politically maladroit.
Warren says she wants to know if Buttigieg is offering promises in exchange for high dollar donors. The Buttigieg campaign is having none of Warren’s demands for transparency and is suggesting that she release her tax returns before making that suggestion of others.
Clearly, Warren regards Buttigieg, who is currently on top of the polling in Iowa and New Hampshire, as a target. The mayor of South Bend is inexperienced in national politics and might be expected to make mistakes that can be exploited. Among those possible mistakes would be something embarrassing said at a private fundraiser attended by the sort of rich people Warren has been going after on the campaign trail.
Warren also went after Michael Bloomberg, which should be expected because he is a billionaire and her campaign has made it a point to make billionaires enemies of the people who should be taken down a considerable peg with her proposed wealth tax. She accused Bloomberg of trying to buy his way into the Democratic presidential race with a $37 million ad buy. She connected the entry of Bloomberg into the race with the withdraw of Kamala Harris from it and the fact that as of this writing there will be no candidates of color in the next Democratic debate.
Thus far, Bloomberg is at about four or six percent in the polls, not much of a threat to the more established candidates. However, he has several policy proposals, ranging from gun control to climate change legislation, those liberal voters might find to be attractive. Warren is concentrating on Bloomberg’s wealth rather than his agenda as a disqualifier.
Warren finds herself in a precarious position. A few weeks ago, she was riding high, with many political observers declaring that she had all but won the Democratic primary campaign. The candidate is struggling not to be swamped in Iowa and New Hampshire as her poll numbers continue to crater.
Newsweek notes that Warren is continuing to lose support, though she is running close behind Buttigieg in Iowa. That last fact suggests the reason that she is going after the mayor of South Bend and not Bernie Sanders, her rival for Democrats on the left, or Joe Biden, still the presumed national front runner despite a host of gaffes and senior moments while on the stump. A come from behind win in Iowa could put some wind back into her sails going into New Hampshire, a state next door to her own.
Still, as she struggles to counter criticism of her health care and tax proposals, Warren has taken the same stance that many past candidates have taken when they are behind in the polls. “It’s the same answer it’s always been. I don’t do polls.”
In other words, Warren is putting on a brave face for a precarious situation. Kamala Harris’ fate is a stark warning about how changing of political fortune can sink a candidate. Warren must hope that she can make her own luck and come out on top in the end.