Buttigieg defends big money push: Can't 'unilaterally disarm' against Trump

Presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg defended himself against criticism that he does not value small-dollar campaign donations and said Democrats need to pull out all the stops to beat President Trump during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

"We're not going to beat [Trump] with pocket change," Buttigieg had said earlier in the week when asked about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's pledge to forego big money fundraisers if she nabs the nomination.

Fellow Demcrats including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez piled on Buttigieg.

"Small-dollar grassroots campaigns, aka what Buttegieg insults here as 'pocket change,' out-fundraise him by millions. Our nation's leaders should be working to end the era of big money politics, not protect it," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter on Oct. 14.

Buttigieg acknowledged the contribution of his small-dollar donors during Sunday's interview.

"First of all, you don't go from mayor of South Bend to a competitive presidential candidate without knowing a thing or two about grassroots campaigning. My campaign is fueled by the contributions of almost 600,000 individual donors, and most of those are small contributions," Buttigieg said.

"What I'm saying is that we can't go into this fight against Donald Trump with one hand tied behind our back," he continued. "Look, the president of the United States and his allies just raised $125 million. They will pull out all of the stops to stay in power. And I think we have a responsibility to the country to make sure that we go into this fight as Democrats with everything that we've got, and not unilaterally disarming."

Buttigieg also called for campaign finance reform, something many of his 2020 rivals have expressed interest in as well.

He brought in $19.1 million in the last quarter, compared to the whopping $25.3 million that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders collected.