Democracy 2020 Digest: Warren won't disavow new super PAC, after years decrying them

LAS VEGAS – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is reversing her position on opposing support from outside groups such as super PACs.

The progressive senator from Massachusetts had long spoken out against such political action committees -- but as she attempts to mount a comeback for the nomination after disappointing third- and fourth-places finishes in the Iowa caucuses and last week’s primary in neighboring New Hampshire, respectively, she’s changing her stance.

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Speaking to reporters on Thursday after a stop at a campaign field office in North Las Vegas ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, Warren said: “If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in, I’ll lead the charge. But that’s how it has to be. It can’t be the case that a bunch of people keep them and one or two don’t.”

Earlier in the campaign cycle, Warren repeatedly tried but failed to have her Democratic nomination rivals join her in repudiating such outside spending groups.

“The first day I got in this race over a year ago, I said I hope every presidential candidate who comes in will agree -- no super PACs for any of us. I renewed that call dozens of times,” Warren explained. “And I couldn’t get a single Democrat to go along with it.”

“Finally, we reached the point a few weeks ago where all of the men who were still in this race and on the debate stage all had either super PACs or they were multi-billionaires and could just rummage around their sock drawers and find enough money to be able to fund a campaign,” the senator added.

Warren touted at the debate two weeks ago in New Hampshire that she and 2020 rival Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota were the only two candidates who didn’t have super PACs supporting their White House bids.

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But last week, a super PAC named "Kitchen Table Conversations" formed to back Klobuchar. And Tuesday, a super PAC named "Persist PAC" formed to support Warren. The group immediately began running TV ads in Nevada spotlighting former President Barack Obama praising Warren.

Cashing in on the debate

Warren not only won rave reviews for her debate performance -- when the populist senator repeatedly slammed Democratic nomination rival Mike Bloomberg over his treatment of women and his controversial policing practice of "stop and frisk" during his tenure as New York City’s mayor -- she also hauled in a bunch of much-needed campaign cash.

Warren tweeted on Thursday afternoon, saying: “Since I stepped on the #DemDebate stage, our grassroots campaign has raised more than $5 million. We’ve not only reached our critical goal of raising $7 million before the Nevada caucuses -- we're now raising it to $12 million. I'm so grateful. Keep it up!”

Hours later, the campaign touted that they’ve “now raised more than $17 million in February: officially our best month ever.”

Warren wasn’t the only candidate hauling in the cash following the debate. The campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced late Wednesday night that they hauled in $2.7 million from nearly 150,000 donations in the hours surrounding the primetime showdown. The campaign said it was the best debate day fundraising they’ve had to date.

Bloomberg’s big bucks

Bloomberg’s team on Thursday reported their January financial report, which indicated that the campaign spent an eye-popping and unprecedented $460 million since the multi-billionaire business and media mogul's declaration of candidacy in late November 2019 through the end of last month -- to run ads nationwide and to build a massive campaign structure from coast to coast.

Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey spotlighted that “with over 2,400 staff across 43 states today, Mike is the only candidate with the record and resources to build the national infrastructure Democrats need to beat Donald Trump.”

The massive spending isn’t sitting well with Warren, who told reporters: “Mayor Bloomberg thinks he can buy this election. He’s dumped $400 million into it so far and skipped the democracy part of it -- shaking hands and meeting people, learning about their issues. He thought he could waltz on that stage, push everybody else off, and become the Democratic nominee.”

Biden takes aim at Bloomberg

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the one-time front-runner in the Democratic nomination race -- also took aim on Thursday at Bloomberg’s spending spree.

“Even though he spent hundreds of millions of dollars, I don’t think the mayor of New York is, you know, in the right party, I don’t think he’s moving in the right way,” Biden told reporters after giving a speech in Las Vegas on curbing gun violence.

Biden -- who has seen his poll numbers slide after lackluster fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the overwhelming white states of Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively -- is hoping to rebound as the race moves to Nevada and South Carolina, states with much more diverse electorates.

“I think it’s basically just getting started and I think we got a long way to go,” the former vice president emphasized.

Steyer digs at fellow billionaire Bloomberg

Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer didn’t make the stage at Wednesday night’s debate -- but he weighed in on Bloomberg’s debate performance on Thursday.

The billionaire environmental and progressive advocate told Fox News: “I think there were some questions he found really hard to answer as a Democrat. I think it’s hard to answer for stop and frisk. I think it’s hard to answer for support or redlining. I think it’s hard to answer giving a speech at the Republican Convention in support of the reelection of George W. Bush. So he had a lot to answer for.”

And Steyer said Bloomberg’s opposition to wealth taxes proposed by some of his 2020 rivals was problematic.

“Everybody gets a chance to run as a Democrat. I think, though, if you want to win as a Democrat, then you’ve got to recognize what this party stands for and that’s why I’ve said from the beginning I don’t think Mike Bloomberg, somebody as rich and successful as Mike Bloomberg -- and I’m pretty rich and successful myself -- can represent Democrats without going for a wealth tax,” Steyer told reporters in Las Vegas.

When asked by Fox News where he needs to finish in Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday and the Feb. 29 primary in South Carolina, Steyer said: “I don’t think there’s an exact number but I’ve got to show that I can put together that diverse coalition.”

Trump’s fundraising prowess

Meanwhile, the president’s reelection campaign keeps hauling in big bucks.

The Trump reelection team announced on Thursday that they and the Republican National Committee (RNC) brought in $60.5 million in January and that they currently have a war chest of more than $200 million.

“President Trump’s campaign and the RNC continue to be fundraising juggernauts,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said.

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Thursday is the deadline for the president campaign’s to report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) its January figures.

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeig's campaign announced that it raised $6 million in January and an additionaly $11 million so far in February.

Sanders’ campaign announced earlier this month that they hauled in more than $25 million in January.

Fox News' Tara Prnidiville, Andrew Craft, Kelly Phares, Madeleine Rivera, and Andres del Aguila contributed to this report