A Wednesday column by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell accusing Sen. Elizabeth Warren of "hypocrisy" in fundraising for her 2020 presidential drew anger from progressives and Democrats who said the piece was an unofficial across-the-bow attack from the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden.
The charge of hypocrisy is premised on the idea that Warren's pledge to avoid big donor fundraisers is a deceptive ploy for voters because the Massachusetts senator transferred $10.4 million into her presidential campaign from her Senate warchest, some of which was raised by big money-donors. Rendell also claims that Warren was a regular attendee at fundraisers he organized.
Critics of the column saw the article as a move by the Biden campaign ahead of Thursday's debate in Houston, Texas.
"Total dirtbag move by Ed Rendell and the Biden mafia," tweeted Philadelphia Enquirer opinion columnist Will Bunch.
"Rendell is a total hired hitman for Biden," Bunch added. "He played the same role for Hillary in '16 and '08."
The New Republic's Libby Watson wrote that while "there's a case to be made against Warren on this issue," Rendell made it personal, and thus revealed the uncomfortable reality of the fundraising donor world:
Tantrums like Rendell's expose the truth that the membership of the donor class, despite having enough money to effectively immunize them against the political choices that unravel the lives of ordinary people, are also just socially-stunted people who use campaign money as currency in their social relationships, and whose personal feelings have a great effect on who and what they support.
And, as The American Prospect's deputy editor Gabrielle Gurley pointed out, Rendell's not exactly free from charges of hypocristy himself.
"The problem with Rendell's long track record is that it's just too easy to dive in and unearth examples of his own hypocrisy, from lobbying for fracking companies to his role in shadiness associated with the 2016 Democratic Convention held in Philadelphia," wrote Gurley. "None of these things bode well for Rendell going forward and, by extension, Biden."
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Rendell, for his part, told Philly Mag that he objected to the accusation.
"The last thing I should be called is a hypocrite," said Rendell. "I am not a hypocrite. I say what I believe. It's been said that I shit where I eat, and that's gotten me into a lot of trouble. But a hypocrite? Never."
In comments to Politico, an unnamed Biden staffer didn't seem completely displeased with Rendell's column, though the campaign claimed it had nothing to do with the content.
"He raised some fair points," the staffer said.
And, Rendell told Politico, supporters of the former vice president have been similarly supportive.
"I got contacted by Biden supporters all over," said Rendell, "saying 'great column.'"
But, said journalist David Dayen, Biden should be careful relying on the Rendell column at the debate. The former vice president has his own financial secrets, particularly around taxes.
"I look forward to hearing Joe Biden parrot his lobbyist friend Ed Rendell about financial hypocrisy tonight," Dayen tweeted, "only to be asked 'now that you bring it up, why are you dodging taxes on your millions in recently acquired wealth?'"