Clinton wants to go beyond 'Buffett rule' on taxes

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (AP)

Omaha - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received a public endorsement on Wednesday from Warren Buffett and said she wants to build on an Obama administration push inspired by the billionaire investor to raise tax rates on the richest Americans.

Introducing Clinton, Buffett offered a litany of statistics describing a growing chasm between America's rich and poor, lamenting, "millions and millions and millions of Americans have been left behind". Buffett was the namesake for the push by the Obama administration to seek a tax rate of 30% on those earning $1m or more.

"I want to go even further, because Warren is 100% right, as usual," Clinton said at a rally in Omaha, Nebraska. "I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful."

The former secretary of state is the solid front-runner for the Democratic nomination, facing two rivals in the state-by-state primary contests that begin in February. On the Republican side, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump continues to lead a crowded field, with Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio looking to surge and former Florida governor Jeb Bush struggling to stay in the mix.

Buffett said he would be "delighted" if Clinton takes the oath of office, asserting that she will not forget about middle-class Americans. The famed investor said he had watched all of the Republican presidential debates, but Clinton was a better choice for voters.

"You know, I used to love Abbott and Costello," he said. "Vaudeville was never this good," he added, suggesting the Republican debates have been comedy.

Clinton was campaigning in deeply conservative Nebraska, which is holding its primary contest on March 5. Clinton says she wants Democrats to tell their Republican friends: "I don't have horns."

Buffett has referred to Clinton as a "hero of mine" in the past and predicted last year that she would succeed President Barack Obama, whom he also supported.

Democrats say Buffett carries a rare dual appeal on Wall Street and Main Street. The investment guru's annual shareholder meeting is dubbed "Woodstock for Capitalists" and drew an overflow crowd of more than 40 000 people from around the globe last spring.

"What he brings to the table is that he's one of the few highly-respected business people who average people view as one of them," said Marc Lasry, a New York hedge fund manager and Democratic donor, in an interview. "He's liked by lots of different kinds of people."

Buffett supported Clinton's first Senate campaign in 2000, raised money for her presidential campaign in 2008 and later endorsed Obama and appeared at fundraisers for the president.

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