Former vice president Joe Biden touted a gun-control group funded by his Democratic primary rival Michael Bloomberg during a campaign rally in Nevada.
Biden delivered a speech on Thursday discussing his record supporting strict gun control with at least 10 people wearing "Moms Demand Action" shirts and caps standing behind him. The organization Moms Demand Action has been a significant beneficiary of Bloomberg's $270 million decade-long effort to institute new gun bans and other gun-control measures nationwide. The group merged with Bloomberg-funded Everytown for Gun Safety after the billionaire promised its leadership an infusion of $50 million, according to the New York Times.
"I've passed meaningful gun legislation at the national level and I'll do it again," Biden said at the event. "But it won't just be because I'll do it. It's because moms against gun violence are now mobilized."
Biden did not attack or even mention Bloomberg during the event. Instead, he criticized the mixed record of frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Biden decried Sanders's vote against the gun background check system and described Sanders's vote to protect gun makers and dealers against frivolous lawsuits as "flat out immoral." Biden made similar criticisms of Sanders during a debate in early February.
Biden's embrace of activists from one of Bloomberg's most visible political projects demonstrates the awkward position many of the Democratic candidates find themselves in as they run against one of the party's top donors. Other candidates have attacked Bloomberg's candidacy without ruling out accepting financial help from the former mayor to win the general election.
During Wednesday's debate in Las Vegas, Pete Buttigieg accused Bloomberg of trying to "buy this election." However, Buttigieg also said he welcomed the billionaire's spending in the general election—which could reach into the hundreds of millions—so long as Bloomberg wasn't the Democrats' nominee.
"I think he should absolutely be doing everything in his power to defeat Donald Trump," Buttigieg said. "I just don't think that has to result in him becoming the president of the United States."
Activists in Bloomberg's own network of political groups have made similar statements about the billionaire's candidacy. Shortly after Bloomberg launched his campaign, Buzzfeed News found none of the top Moms Demand Action volunteers supported him. Bloomberg is the organization's top funder.
"I'm not super psyched about it, but I respect him enormously," Jessica Craven, the legislative lead for a Moms Demand Action group in California, told Buzzfeed. "I don't think we need more candidates—more white male candidates."
"If he really wanted to support the Democratic race, throw that money at a candidate that is gun sense minded," Rhonda Hart, a Moms Demand Action volunteer and Everytown Survivor Fellow, told Buzzfeed.
Moms Demand Action, the Biden campaign, and the Bloomberg campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.