Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she will not solicit wealthy donors and hold high-dollar fundraisers if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination, in a shift from earlier this year when she said that fundraising strategy was just for the primary contest.
When asked in an interview with CBS News released Tuesday whether she’d “pivot” or be “forced” to have big-dollar fundraisers if she won the nomination, Warren responded: “No.”
“I will not be forced to make changes in how I raise money,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. “Look, for me this is pretty straight forward. Either you think democracy works and electing a president is all about going behind closed doors with bazillionaires and corporate executives and lobbyists and scooping up as much money as possible. Or you think it’s about a grassroots, let’s build this from the ground up.”
She later added: “I’m not going to go do the big-dollar fundraisers. I’m just not going to do it.”
Despite her success with small-dollar donors during the primary, declining to raise big sums could put Warren at a significant financial disadvantage in a general-election battle with President Donald Trump. Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $125 million during the July-to-September fundraising quarter — fueled, in part, by six-figure donations collected at ritzy events. On a single day in August, for instance, Trump and the RNC raised $12 million at two fundraisers in the Hamptons.
Rufus Gifford, who served as finance director for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, on Wednesday criticized Warren’s decision, saying it jeopardized Democrats up and down the ballot in 2020.
“This is a colossally stupid decision not just for Democratic chances to win back the White House but for all Democrats up and down the ticket if she sticks to it,” he wrote on Twitter.
Warren has previously said that her strategy for fundraising was just for her primary campaign for the Democratic nomination.
“When we hit the general, yeah, there’s gonna be big money on both sides,” Warren told CNN earlier this year. “I get it. And lots of the ads and so on.”
“I don’t believe in unilateral disarmament,” she added.
Warren, who does not hold private fundraisers and has raised her money in the primary through small donor donations, raised $24.6 million in the last financial quarter from 940,000 donations, second only to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who raised $25.3 million.
Warren campaign communications director Kristen Orthman told CNN in a statement, “When Elizabeth is the Democratic nominee for president, she’s not going to change a thing in how she runs her campaign.”
She also added that if Warren is the nominee, “She will continue to raise money and attend events that are open to the press to make sure the Democratic National Committee, state and local parties, and Democratic candidates everywhere have the resources not just to beat Donald Trump but also to win back Congress and state legislatures all across the country.”
This story has been updated.