Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) declared Democratic presidential candidates had to say "no to billionaires" Wednesday before adding that billionaires like Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer were welcome to run for office but shouldn't finance their own campaigns.
Becoming the first big name to join what could wind up a historically large field, Warren announced the launch of an exploratory committee for president this week. She began making the usual moves of a White House contender, announcing a trip to Iowa this weekend and staffing up ahead of the visit. The progressive darling is looking to strike a path to the nomination as a leading populist voice in the party.
She told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that it would be a "fish or cut bait year for the Democrats," asking if the Democratic primary was going to be a true grassroots movement or "one more play thing that billionaires can buy."
"So I think this is a moment for all of the Democratic nominees, as they come into the race, to say, in a Democratic primary, we are going to link arms, and we're going to say grassroots funding," Warren said. "No to the billionaires. No to the billionaires, whether they are self-funding or whether they're funding PACs. We are the Democratic Party, and that's the party of the people. That's how we not only win elections, that's how we build movements that make real change, and that's what we've got to do. We've got to win, but we've got to produce, and that's only going to happen if we've got a whole movement underway."
Maddow asked if she thought figures like Bloomberg and Steyer should be precluded from running.
"Of course not! I just meant that people should not be self-funding, and they should not be funded from PACs from other billionaires," Warren said. "A primary is an opportunity to hear from the grassroots, to see what you can build, to see what kind of energy is out there. Get out there, trust your message, trust what it is that you're fighting for."
Dozens of Democrats are considering a run for the White House against President Donald Trump, including Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), former secretary of state John Kerry, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas).