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Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg Hold Contrasting Hollywood Fundraisers

Senator and US Democratic presidential candidate
ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA-EFE/Shutters

Bernie Sanders held a “grassroots fundraiser” in Hollywood on Thursday night, delivering his message of political transformation to an adoring crowd at the Montalban Theatre.

At the same time, Pete Buttigieg was holding a sold-out fundraiser at the home of NBCUniversal international chairman Kevin MacLellan and Brian Curran, featuring co-hosts Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Chelsea Handler and Sean Hayes.

The events, just a few miles away from each other, offered a contrast between two of the top fundraisers in the Democratic field. Sanders has received 2 million donations — often in increments of $2.70 or less — and has raised more than any other Democrat in total.

Buttigieg, meanwhile, has mixed grassroots fundraising events with more traditional high-dollar events, where many attendees give the maximum $2,800. His strategy helped him outpace every other Democrat, including Sanders, in the second quarter, bringing in $24.9 million.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris have also made recent visits to L.A., with Biden stopping last week at the Bel Air home of Sony Pictures’ Tom Rothman.

It was a contrast that Sanders was happy to draw, as attendees at his fundraiser were treated to music acts and asked to make a text donation of $27 to the campaign.

“Some politicians go to wealthy people’s homes and they sit around in a fancy living room, and people contribute thousands and thousands of dollars and they walk out with a few hundred thousand bucks or whatever,” Sanders said. “We don’t do that. … To me, an $18 check or a $27 check from a working person is worth more than all the money in the world from millionaires.”

Buttigieg’s fundraiser was one of four in a whirlwind Thursday in Los Angeles, none of which were open to the press. He did allow the media to come along when he visited Vector90, a tech incubator in South L.A. co-founded by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.

Buttigieg took questions from African-American and Latino students who were visiting the incubator, including questions about how to deal with racism and stereotyping in school.

“Frankly a lot of white liberals who are maybe a little too comfortable about how far we’ve come as a society need to know that people are being called racial slurs to their faces in high schools in America in 2019,” Buttigieg said. “Obviously we’ve got a president who’s making it worse.”

Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., has become a star in Hollywood, raising money from actors and studio executives at a startling clip for someone new to the national scene.

Sanders, meanwhile, has ripped Disney CEO Bob Iger for drawing a $66 million salary, and highlighted the low wages of Disneyland workers. He has attracted scant support — if not outright loathing — from Hollywood’s elite, which he and his supporters wear as a badge of honor.

“Who has an anti-endorsement list?” asked Nina Turner, the former Ohio state senator who opened for Sanders on Thursday night. “There is no other candidate that has a list of folks who don’t want to see him become president of the United States.”

Sanders did not hold back in his remarks, going after the “incredibly greedy” people who donate to campaigns and seek to slash the social safety net.

“These people have incredible power and they have unlimited sums of money to buy elections, to buy politicians, to buy the media — they own the media,” he said. “We are gonna tell the ruling class of this country that they cannot and will not have it all.”

Sanders is holding a rally at Santa Monica High School on Friday evening.

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