Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a prominent backer of Joe Biden for president, said Thursday the Washington Post op-ed in which he called Elizabeth Warren a hypocrite for criticizing the former vice president’s big-dollar fund-raisers was not directed by the Biden campaign.
Rendell said the newspaper solicited the piece after seeing his critical comments in a New York Times news article about Warren moving $10.4 million from her Senate reelection campaign account into her presidential campaign’s treasury. In a tweet, he also said he was called in response to his article in The Hill.
Rendell obliged. Biden’s folks were caught off guard, he said.
“They’re a little ticked off I didn’t tell them it was coming,” Rendell, who stressed he is not an official of the Biden campaign, said. “I told them I’ve always been a free spirit and I say what I believe, and I said the best thing you can get from me is plausible deniability.”
Warren, who is a rising rival to Biden, has made a point of forswearing large contributions in favor of grassroots money in her presidential campaign, but she has also used bigger amounts raised for her Senate campaign in Massachusetts last year — a legal and common move for which she has been criticized.
At issue for Rendell were comments Warren made about “swanky” Biden fund-raisers in an email to supporters in April, shortly after Biden held an event, chaired by Rendell, in Philadelphia at the home of senior Comcast executive David L. Cohen.
Rendell cohosted similar big-dollar events for Warren in 2018. “She attacked us as fat cats influenced by lawmakers and again I like Elizabeth, obviously, I gave her $4,500 and I’m not a rich guy, but I thought that was very hypocritical," he said.
Biden’s campaign referred a question about the op-ed to a tweet Rendell posted earlier Thursday clarifying that the essay was self-penned, without its influence.
Rendell said he will cohost a fund-raiser for Biden on Sept. 23 at the Franklin Institute. He said it’s becoming harder to find Biden supporters in the area who haven’t already given the maximum $2,800 that individuals can contribute in the primary.
He doubled down on his contention that a maximum donation doesn’t mean a candidate is beholden to that donor down the road. He also said he’d raise money for Warren if she’s the party’s nominee.
“Is anybody stupid enough to think that giving $2,800 for a presidential campaign that raises hundreds of millions is going to buy them any influence? The vast majority of people who give, as I said in the op-ed, simply give because they like the candidate.”
Warren’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.