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Tom Steyer defended his billionaire status at the 5th Democratic debate Wednesday following months of attacks over using wealth to bankroll his campaign.

THE WASHINGTON POST'S ASHLEY PARKER: "You have spent over $300 million of your own money in support of your political goals. How do you respond to critics who see you as the embodiment of a special interest?"

STEYER: "What I've done over the last decade, is to put together coalitions of ordinary Americans to take on unchecked corporate power... Over the last decade, with the help of the American people, we have taken on and beaten the oil companies. We have taken on and beaten the tobacco companies. We have taken on and beaten utilities."

The big picture: Much of the 2020 Democratic field is rejecting large-dollar donations and focusing on grassroots fundraising. Steyer, who's vowed to use $100 million of his own money in the race, has faced accusations of buying his way to success. He launched his campaign in July.

  • Billionaires are facing increasing backlash from Democrats. Both Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also a billionaire and is expected to make a decision this week on whether he'll enter the Democratic race, have felt some of the heat.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
9 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.