Democratic rivals pummel Bloomberg at start of Nevada debate


The knives were out for Michael Bloomberg as he joined his fellow candidates on the Democratic debate stage Wednesday in Las Vegas.

And no candidate held back.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against, a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians,’ and, no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

“Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop-and-frisk,” Warren added later.

Michael Bloomberg, left, and Elizabeth Warren
Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren face off at the debate on Wednesday night. (John Locher/AP)

Sen. Bernie Sanders also hit Bloomberg’s record. “Mr. Bloomberg had policies in New York City of stop-and-frisk which went after African-American and Latino people in an outrageous way. That is not a way you’re going to grow voter turnout,” said Sanders.

Bloomberg and Sanders have also been in a running feud, playing out mostly on Twitter, as Sanders rises to the top of nearly every national polling average and Bloomberg eagerly attempts to knock Sanders off that perch. In the past few weeks, Bloomberg has disavowed parts of Sanders’s fervent fan base — often referred to as “Bernie Bros” — as toxic while a Sanders aide incorrectly accused Bloomberg of having a heart attack. (Bloomberg did have stents placed in 2000.)

Bloomberg hit back on Wednesday, saying there was no chance Sanders could win the nomination.

“I don’t think there’s any chance of the senator beating Donald Trump. You don’t start out by saying I got 160 million people I’m going to take the insurance plan that they love. If he is the candidate, we will have Donald Trump for another four years and we cannot stand that,” said the former New York mayor who has poured millions of his personal fortune into promoting his candidacy since he entered the race in November.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, whose polling numbers have declined since Bloomberg entered the race, also got in an early shot at the former mayor.

“The mayor makes an interesting point. The fact of the matter is he has not managed his city very, very well when he was there. He had stop-and-frisk throwing close to 5 million young black men against the wall,” said Biden, who has been recently irate at ads from the Bloomberg campaign that suggest that the former mayor and former President Barack Obama had a close working relationship. Biden’s onstage remarks followed up on a digital ad released by his campaign that attempted to dispel the notion that Obama supports his candidacy.

Several Democratic candidates, including some who are no longer in the contest, accused Bloomberg of buying his way into the primary.

“I actually welcomed Mayor Bloomberg to the stage,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “I have been told many times to wait my turn and step aside and I’m not going to do that now. … I don’t think you look at Donald Trump and say we need someone richer in the White House.”

On Twitter earlier in the week, Warren previewed her fight-line in comparing Bloomberg, quite starkly, to Trump.

“It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate,” Warren wrote. “But at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire.”

Bloomberg is not on the ballot in any of the four early states and so he’s yet to win a single delegate. Yet his unique campaign strategy and formidable war chest have equipped him to potentially amass a large number of delegates come Super Tuesday — just three days after the South Carolina primary — and could put him close to the lead come March 4. Bloomberg is currently polling in third place, according to RealClearPolitics, with a 16.1 average nationally, behind Sanders and Biden.


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