democratic primaries

Democratic Candidates Unify Around Attacking Pete Buttigieg

Everybody hates Pete. Photo: Erin Clark/Boston Globe via Getty Images

After a strong showing in Iowa and ahead of an expected second-place finish in New Hampshire, Pete Buttigieg has emerged as every other candidate’s preferred punching bag in the Democratic primary. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are calling him out for taking money from billionaires and proposing small-scale change. Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden are attacking him, and in some cases, making fun of him, for a lack of experience. Even Tom Steyer is going after the 38-year-old former South Bend mayor.

Warren, who’s framing herself as the only candidate to bring together a fractured Democratic electorate, is the most experienced Buttigieg basher. In December, she brought up the now-infamous “wine cave” fundraiser and accused him selling access to his time. She’s revived the attack ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

On ABC’s This Week Sunday, Warren criticized Buttigieg for building a “coalition of billionaires” and “sucking up to billionaires.” In a not-so-subtle jab at him during Saturday’s McIntyre-Shaheen dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire, Warren said she’s “not running a race that has been shaped by a bunch of consultants. I’m not offering a bunch of proposals that have been carefully designed not to offend big donors.”

Sanders has hit Buttigieg with similar criticisms, calling him out at last week’s debate for having “40 billionaires” contribute to his campaign. He revived the attack on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday. “At last count he has about 40 billionaires who are contributing to his campaign,” Sanders said. “That is precisely the problem with American politics.”

Buttigieg has defended taking donations from anyone who will give them. “I want everybody to help out,” he said on Fox News Sunday this weekend. “I want everybody who shares that vision to be at our side.”

The attacks from Buttigieg’s fellow moderates in the race, Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden, have focused not on his donors, but on the 38-year-old’s lack of experience. It’s an argument Klobuchar has been making since last year, when she said a woman with Buttigieg’s resume would never make it as far as he has. She’s repeatedly compared Buttigieg’s lack of experience to Donald Trump’s and did so again at last week’s debate. “We have a newcomer in the White House, and look where it got us,” she said. “I think having some experience is a good thing.”

Klobuchar’s criticism of Buttigieg comes amid a mini-surge in support for the Minnesota senator, who, like Buttigieg, seems to be benefiting from a shaky Joe Biden, who is attempting to right the ship by stepping up criticism of Buttigieg.

A campaign ad over the weekend mocked Buttigieg’s time as mayor of South Bend, and Biden said last week that it’s a “risk” to nominate “someone who’s never held office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 in Indiana.”

Biden has also criticized comparisons of Buttigieg to Barack Obama. “Oh, come on, man,” Biden told reporters. “This guy is not a Barack Obama.”

Buttigieg has tried to flip Biden’s critique, telling voters in New Hampshire that his outsider status is why he should be the nominee.

“As some folks would say, what business does a mayor have running for president?” he said. “You don’t have an office in Washington, D.C., you don’t have decades of Establishment experience, you’re not even from one of the biggest cities in the United States. To which I say, that’s very much the point. We need to bring new voices to Washington, D.C.”

Democratic Candidates Unify Around Attacking Pete Buttigieg