Politics

Elizabeth Warren reverses her position on super PAC support as she seeks comeback

Key Points
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren reversed her position on rejecting super PAC support as she seeks a comeback in the Democratic presidential primary.
  • The move comes the day after she and other Democratic candidates ganged up on billionaire Mike Bloomberg in the Nevada debate.
  • Warren told reporters that she had changed her mind after failing to get her rivals to join her in repudiating the outside spending groups.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) greets supporters at a canvass kickoff event at one of her campaign offices on February 20, 2020 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada Democrats will hold their presidential caucuses on February 22, the third nominating contest in the presidential primary season.
David Becker | Getty Images

LAS VEGAS – Sen. Elizabeth Warren reversed her position on rejecting super PAC support on Thursday as she seeks a comeback in the Democratic presidential primary.

Warren, who has previously said that she would disavow the support of a super PAC that sought to aid her bid for the presidency, told reporters that she had changed her mind after failing to get her rivals to join her in repudiating the outside spending groups.

The reversal is a dramatic change of heart for the Massachusetts progressive. Warren boasted during the Democratic debate in New Hampshire earlier this month that only she and Sen. Amy Klobuchar lacked super PAC backers.

But, on Thursday, Warren said that the fact that only the "two women" didn't have super PAC support was "just not right."

"So here's where I stand. If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in. I'll lead the charge," Warren said. "But that's how it has to be. It can't be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only one or two don't."

A super PAC backing Klobuchar, called Kitchen Table Conversations, filed paperwork with the FEC on Friday.

"So look, 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 said. "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 multibillionaires and could just rummage around their sock drawers and find enough money to be able to fund a campaign," she said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders does not have a dedicated super PAC backing his bid, although the super PAC connected to the nurse's union National Nurses United, which has endorsed Sanders, is supporting him. The group has spent about $400,000 on radio ads, according to The Nevada Independent.

The nonprofit political organization Our Revolution also serves a similar role for Sanders. Unlike a super PAC, Our Revolution is not required to disclose its donors.

A super PAC backing Warren, called "Persist PAC," filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday. The group immediately began airing television ads in Nevada showing former President Barack Obama praising the senator.

The group has spent $1.7 million on television advertisements in Nevada and South Carolina, according to Medium Buying, an ad buying firm. The super PAC's donors will not be publicly disclosed until after Nevada and South Carolina host their nominating contests this month. Nevada's caucuses are Saturday, and South Carolina's primary is Feb. 29.

On Wednesday, Warren released a statement reiterating that she believed Democrats should disavow super PAC support but not directly instructing Resist PAC to quit its efforts. Her website continues to say that Warren "would disavow any super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic primary."

Warren's previous rejection of super PAC support was of a piece with her grassroots campaign ethos. Like Sanders, Warren also shuns big-dollar campaign fundraisers. Representatives for the campaign did not say whether her new stance on super PACs would affect her other campaign finance pledges.

Super PACs, or super political action committees, are forbidden from coordinating with candidates.

Warren's comments on Thursday came shortly after a lively event with supporters at a campaign field office in North Las Vegas, where Warren repeated the highlights from the Las Vegas debate the night before.

Warren, during both the debate and the campaign event, skewered billionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, who has been plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into a bid for the Democratic nomination.

"Last night was a lot of fun, and I'll tell you why," Warren said. "Because for me, it's about accountability. I've really had it with billionaires, regardless of party, who think the rules don't apply to them."

Bloomberg, who will not be on any ballots in Nevada, has been rocketing skyward in national polling averages in recent weeks as Warren has declined. But Warren cast aside the notion that she intended to drop out of the race any time soon.

"Give Mitch McConnell a call and see how telling that woman to sit down and shut up works," Warren said. "All I can say is we are just getting started."

Warren's campaign announced on Thursday that her campaign raised more than $5 million since Wednesday's debate. Wednesday, the campaign said, was its best fundraising debate day of the entire cycle.

VIDEO2:2802:28
Bloomberg was left battered after the Nevada Democratic debate—Watch the key moments