Politics

Lloyd Blankfein mocks Elizabeth Warren after attack ad: 'Maybe tribalism is just in her DNA'

Key Points
  • Billionaire investment banker Lloyd Blankfein takes a swipe at Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
  • Blankfein was responding directly to Warren's most recent campaign ad, which takes aim at him and other billionaires who have blasted her rhetoric and policies.
  • "Maybe tribalism is just in her DNA," Blankfein says in an apparent dig at Warren's much-criticized claims of Native American ancestry.
Lloyd Blankfein, then chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., smiles during a discussion at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Lloyd Blankfein hit back at Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren on Thursday, after she singled him and other billionaires out for greed as she pressed for higher taxes on the wealthy.

"Vilification of people as a member of a group may be good for her campaign, not the country," Blankfein, the 65-year-old Goldman Sachs senior chairman, said in a tweet.

"Maybe tribalism is just in her DNA," Blankfein added in an apparent dig at Warren's much-criticized prior claims of Native American ancestry. President Donald Trump has also mocked the Massachusetts U.S. senator over her claims, often calling her "Pocahontas."

He served as CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs from 2006 until the end of 2018.

Blankfein was responding directly to Warren's most recent campaign ad, which aired on CNBC on Thursday and takes aim at him and other billionaires who have blasted her rhetoric and policies, most notably her proposed wealth tax on the richest Americans.

Her most outspoken adversary on this front, investor Leon Cooperman, had written a lengthy public letter to Warren admonishing her to abandon her "soak-the-rich positions" and highlighting the philanthropic achievements of the rich.

"If this lady wins, we're in big trouble." Cooperman said in a telephone interview Thursday on CNBC's "Halftime Report."

Warren, now a front-runner in the 2020 primary race, has started fundraising off Cooperman's emotional appearance on CNBC earlier this month — by selling a "billionaire tears" coffee mug on her campaign website.

A spokeswoman for Warren's campaign did not immediately provide a comment to CNBC.

VIDEO6:5006:50
Billionaire Leon Cooperman responds to Senator Warren's CNBC wealth tax ad

Blankfein has contributed to and endorsed Democratic presidential candidates in the past, including Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in the 2016 election. But he also criticized another 2016 candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying his campaign "has the potential to be a dangerous moment."

Blankfein appears in Warren's ad, alongside other billionaires including Cooperman and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

"She probably thinks more of cataclysmic change to the economic system as opposed to tinkering," Blankfein is quoted as saying of Warren in the TV spot.

After his clip, a text overlay claims Blankfein "EARNED $70 MILLION DURING THE FINANCIAL CRASH."

Blankfein's net worth is listed as $1.3 billion in Warren's ad.

A Goldman Sachs vice president, Bill Lomax, is chairman of the board of trustees of the National Museum of the American Indian. Lomax is a member of the Gitxsan Nation, a group of indigenous people in Canada.

Lomax did not immediately return a request for comment on Blankfein's reference to Warren's purported "tribalism." But Mitchelene BigMan, who had served with Lomax on the museum's board of trustees until recently, said she did not agree with Blankfein's use of the word tribalism to criticize a policy position of Warren's.

"It's unfair to personalize" the dispute, said BigMan. "I don't like that [term], tribalism ... It's kind of negative toward me being a Native American," said BigMan, who uses the word "nation" to describe indigenous people.

She said the word tribalism was used in a sarcastic and demeaning way toward her during a two-decade-long career in the U.S. Army, which she retired from as sergeant first-class.