Holding back no more, Warren slams top rivals Biden and Buttigieg

MANCHESTER, N.H. – In some of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s most pointed remarks in her nearly year-long bid for the White House, the Democratic presidential candidate -- who in recent weeks has seen her poll numbers slip -- fired away on Thursday at two of her top-tier rivals for her party’s nomination.

And while she didn’t name names, it was crystal clear the progressive senator was taking aim at the two leading center-left candidates -- former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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“No other candidate has put out anything close to my sweeping plan to root out Washington corruption," the Massachusetts Democrat touted as she gave a major address on the issue in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.

“Unlike some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I'm not counting on Republican politicians having an epiphany and suddenly supporting the kinds of tax increases on the rich or big business accountability that they have opposed under Democratic presidents for a generation,” Warren said in her speech.

The comment was an indirect jab at Biden, who has repeatedly highlighted on the campaign trail that if elected, he can work with Republicans to reach compromise.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts gives an address at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, on Dec. 12, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts gives an address at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, on Dec. 12, 2019

Warren also took aim at Biden and Buttigieg over their repeated attacks on her push for a government-run "Medicare-for-all" health care system, as well as other progressive policies the populist senator has pushed as she runs for the White House.

“Unlike some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I'm not betting my agenda on the naive hope that if Democrats adopt Republican critiques of progressive policies or make vague calls for unity that somehow the wealthy and well-connected will stand down,” Warren said during her address at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

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Warren -- who has eschewed fundraisers with top-dollar donors during her presidential bid as she instead focuses nearly entirely on small-dollar grassroots contributions -- once again criticized Biden and Buttigieg for mingling with wealthy donors.

"They are spending their time in fundraisers with high-dollar donors, selling access to their time for money. Some of them have spent months blocking reporters from entering those fancy, closed-door affairs,” she said.

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And pointing to Buttigieg without naming him, she said the candidate “calls the people who raise a quarter-million dollars for him his ‘National Investors Circle,’ and he offers them regular phone calls and special access. When a candidate brags about how beholden he feels to a group of wealthy investors, our democracy is in serious trouble.”

Asked after her speech if she’s the only Democratic White House hopeful who can fix what she says is a broken system of government, the senator -- again pointing to her rivals -- told reporters: "We know how bad the problems are right now. No one is proposing the kinds of solutions that address those problems."

The increased aggressiveness in going after her top-tier rivals appears to be part of Warren’s shaking up of her routine, which also includes altering her format on the campaign trail to include more interaction with voters. The moves come as the one-time co-front-runner in the Democratic nomination race has seen her poll numbers deteriorate the past month in national surveys and, more importantly, in polls in New Hampshire and Iowa, the state that kicks off the primary and caucus presidential nominating calendar.

Thanks to repeated pressure from Warren in recent days, Buttigieg announced on Sunday that he would open up his closed-door fundraisers to media coverage, similar to what the Biden campaign has done this election cycle.

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Following Warren’s address, the Buttigieg campaign returned fire.

“Senator Warren's idea of how to defeat Donald Trump is to tell people who don’t support her that they are unwelcome in the fight and that those who disagree with her belong in the other party. We need to move beyond the politics and divisiveness that is tearing this country apart and holding us back,” Buttigieg senior advisor Lis Smith said in a statement.

Fox News reached out to Biden’s campaign, which declined to respond to Warren’s criticisms.

But, hours later, at a fundraiser in California, the former vice president commented on Warren’s criticism.

“I read a speech by one of my -- good person -- one of my opponents, saying that, ‘You know, Biden says we’re going to have to work with Republicans to get stuff passed,’” he said to chuckles from the audience. “I thought, ‘Well, OK -- how are you going to do it, by executive order?’”

Biden went on, “This particular person said, ‘He thinks he can actually unify the country -- you can’t unify the country.’ Well, guys, if we can’t unify the country, you all ought to go home now, because nothing’s going to happen except by executive order.”