Mike Bloomberg made an unfortunate slip of the tongue in Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina.
The billionaire boasted about having bought congressional seats to help Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) take back the House majority before quickly catching himself, the New York Post reported. It was an ironic admission coming from the candidate whose rivals have accused him of trying to purchase the presidential nomination.
Bloomberg entered the race in November and has skipped the early nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, despite appearing in two debates this month. His rivals, alarmed at his late rise in the polls, sought to destroy him at last week’s debate in Las Vegas, where they accused the billionaire of trying to “buy” the nomination and attacked his record on race and his behavior toward women.
The billionaire has touted his philanthropy/advocacy in support of gun control as a way to show off his liberal bona fides — but he got a little carried away in Charleston. While boasting about the millions he poured into House races in 2018, he all but admitted that he “bought” the Democrats that gave Pelosi the majority back.
“All of the new Democrats that came in, put Nancy Pelosi in charge, and gave the Congress the ability to control this President,” Bloomberg said. “I bough— I got them,” he said, catching himself.
Bloomberg’s support of gun control in states like Virginia, ground zero of the battle for gun rights, has become a source of controversy. Bloomberg was heckled by gun rights activists while campaigning in the state recently.
Making a comeback?
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ crushing victory in last weekend’s Nevada caucuses was something of a blessing for the billionaire, who was a top target in Charleston but not quite the punching bag he became the week before. Besides the slip, Bloomberg gave a generally steadier performance the second time around.
Bloomberg joined Sanders’ rivals in attacking the socialist’s policies as too radical to win a majority of voters — and a liability for Democrats in House and Senate races. He also brought up claims that Russia wants to interfere on Sanders’ behalf.
“Can anybody in the room imagine moderate Republicans going over and voting for him?” he asked.
Some speculated that Bloomberg had also “bought” members of the audience when the billionaire was met with unexpected applause through the night, the New York Post notes. His now-ubiquitous advertisements also appeared during CBS’s commercial breaks.
Super Tuesday looms
In a twist, Bloomberg tried, unsuccessfully, to show some personality by cracking self-deprecating jokes about his height and his poor performance in his first debate. And Warren, whose scorching attacks threw Bloomberg off balance in Las Vegas, again went on the offensive over his comments on redlining, his past donations to Republican candidates for office, and his behavior towards women, including his alleged instruction to a pregnant employee that she “kill it,” referring to her unborn baby.
But Sanders, whose rise has alarmed the party establishment, took most of the hits. If Joe Biden falters in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday, Bloomberg may be the only moderate left with a chance of stopping the socialist.
Bloomberg has now poured more than half a billion dollars of his own wealth into blanketing Super Tuesday states, where he will appear for the first time on the ballot. Clearly he thinks he can buy the presidency, just like he “bought” the House, by his own admission. But Super Tuesday will deliver the ultimate verdict on whether he’s right.