LAS VEGAS — Former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar took aim Sunday at former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ahead of this week’s Democratic presidential debate.
Bloomberg hasn’t yet qualified for Wednesday’s NBC News and MSNBC debate in Las Vegas, but has through Tuesday to meet the party’s criteria.
With that potential clash looming, both Biden and Klobuchar criticized Bloomberg in interviews with “Meet the Press” at a time when the former mayor faces increased scrutiny over past comments about race, policing and women at his eponymous company.
“$60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can't erase your record. There's a lot to talk about with Michael Bloomberg,” Biden said, approximating Bloomberg’s net worth.
“You take a look at the stop-and-frisk proposals. You take a look at his ideas on redlining he's talking about. You take a look at what he's done relative to the African American community. I'm anxious to debate Michael on the issues relating to, you know, what we're going to face in Super Tuesday.”
“It's going to be awful hard to go out and win those — the base support of the Democratic party, the African Americans, Latinos and working class white folks, and put that coalition together. That's how you win an election. You put that coalition together,” he added.
Bloomberg has spent $308 million on television and radio ads alone this cycle, more than every other Democratic presidential candidate combined, according data from Advertising Analytics. He’s seen a rise in his standing in national polls in recent weeks, particularly as Biden’s standing in those same polls has taken a hit.
But Bloomberg's record has also come under increased scrutiny.
The former mayor apologized days before his presidential bid for how the New York City Police Department used its controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy during his tenure in office, admitting that the disproportionate stops of black and Latino New Yorkers led to an “erosion of trust” he’s trying to earn back.
And in recent days, he’s had to confront newly-unearthed comments from his past defense of the policy, including from a 2015 speech where, in video not verified by NBC News, Bloomberg appears to say that while people complain that “we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods…that’s where all the crime is.”
In that same speech, he also said that “the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.”
Bloomberg’s campaign has responded to the new comments by reiterating his apology for the effects of “stop-and-frisk” and attacking President Trump for seizing on the reports.
Amid the controversies, Klobuchar told “Meet the Press” that she does not “think he is the best person to lead the ticket” for Democrats. And she said that she’s both looking forward to debating Bloomberg if he is able to qualify for Wednesday’s presidential debate and wants to see Bloomberg answer tough questions from the media.
“He just can't hide behind the airwaves. He has to answer questions” she said.
“I think he should be on that debate stage, which eventually he will be, because I can't beat him on the airways, but I can beat him on the debate stage, and I think people of America deserve that to make a decision.”