By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Billionaire investor Warren Buffett used his business clout and folksy wisdom to raise $1 million for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, telling big donors that Democrats are better than Republicans at taking care of the less fortunate.
Buffett has said he admires both Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama and could support either one. He mentioned neither by name as he regaled listeners in the New York event billed as “A Conversation with Hillary Clinton and Warren Buffett.”
Many of the attendees work on Wall Street. They paid $500 to hear Buffett and the New York senator, $1,000 to attend a separate cocktail party or $4,600 to attend a dinner as well, bringing the take to $1 million, a Clinton spokeswoman said.
The conversation was dominated by Buffett, the Berkshire Hathaway Inc chairman whose investment successes and chatty annual letters have earned him the nickname “The Oracle of Omaha.” A relaxed and smiling Clinton said comparatively little and nodded as Buffett spoke.
He recalled a saying, “buy stock in a company that’s so good that an idiot can run it, because sooner or later one will.” When he added, “now I think that sort of applies to the country too, actually,” the audience burst out laughing.
“We have an opportunity in 2008 to repair a lot of damage,” Buffett said, referring to the election to replace Republican President George W. Bush.
“We have a great economic machine. Our problem is not abundance, but our problem is how we conduct ourselves in the world, what we do for those who don’t get the lucky straws in life.”
Buffett advocated a beneficent and fair society.
“Treat the ones who got the lucky tickets magnificently, but treat everybody at a decent level and just remember, you know, you could have gotten their ticket,” he said.
“I think the Democrats do a better job of ignoring their own tickets,” he said.
Buffett has not held a similar fundraiser for Obama, the Illinois senator also seeking the Democratic nomination for president in the November 2008 election.