Wednesday night’s Democratic primary debate in Nevada was an absolute bloodbath — but no candidate took as vicious a beating as billionaire Mike Bloomberg.
The newcomer came to his first debate in 10 years rusty and untested after an advertising blitz that has brought him to the forefront. By evening’s end, he had suffered a humiliating implosion, having taken hits on everything from his plans to “buy” the nomination to his record on redlining and stop-and-frisk, his tax returns, and his treatment of women, The Hill reported.
A humiliating night for Mini Mike
Bloomberg has avoided early nominating contests, opting instead to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into blanketing Super Tuesday states with ads. Meanwhile, Democrats have become particularly incensed at Bloomberg, who they claim is trying to “buy” the nomination — and for his first debate night, they went out of their way to give Bloomberg a nasty welcome.
From go, it was a free-for-all — with cross-talk and vicious allegations flying in every direction — but all five of Bloomberg’s rivals had clearly arrived with an agenda to destroy the billionaire, whose late rise has alarmed and angered a packed field of candidates that has campaigned longer and without the advantage of his massive personal fortune. At the outset, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took the gloves off and gave Bloomberg what can only be described as the verbal equivalent of a scalping.
“So 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,” she said. The senator went on:
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 polls like redlining and stop-and-frisk. Look, I’ll support whoever the Democratic nominee is. But understand this: Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.
Once the hits started coming, they just didn’t stop. According to The Hill, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) slammed Bloomberg for “hiding behind his TV ads” and quipped that Democrats don’t want someone richer than Donald Trump to be president. Joe Biden, meanwhile, attacked Bloomberg’s record as mayor of New York City, particularly on stop-and-frisk, and said that the mayor “didn’t get a whole lot done.”
Bloomberg on defensive footing
Bloomberg’s big pitch was that he is the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump and that Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), the Dems’ current frontrunner, is too radical to win — a communist, even. But he looked defensive and was forced to spend much of his little speaking time on Wednesday apologizing for his personal wealth and things he had said and done in the past.
The former mayor hit a low point when Warren and Biden grilled him on his non-disclosure agreements with numerous women, according to Fox News. Bloomberg was booed by the crowd when he said that “we’re not going to get — to end these agreements, because they were made consensually.”
When he apologized for stop-and-frisk, Warren slammed Bloomberg for “willful ignorance” of the effects of the policy and called his apology insufficient. When his rivals pressed him on releasing his tax returns, his response carried a whiff of elitism: “The number of pages will probably be in the thousands of pages. I can’t go to TurboTax.”
Free-for-all in Las Vegas
But Bloomberg did find some relief as the debate expanded into a total free-for-all. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg got into a particularly nasty spat with Klobuchar at one point over her inability to name the president of Mexico and her past vote to make English the national language. “Are you — are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Or are you mocking me here, Pete?” she fired back.
Bloomberg was able to quip: “I can’t think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation.”
Sanders also took plenty of hits from his rivals, especially Buttigieg, on the cost of “Medicare for All” and the overall radicalism of his agenda. As the conversation turned to socialism versus capitalism, Bloomberg was singled out over his vast wealth, which Sanders called “immoral.”
Bloomberg did, however, manage to land a zinger on Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist who owns three homes. “What a wonderful country we have. The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?” the former mayor joked.
But the strong moments were far and few between. Bloomberg may have billions of dollars to throw away on this race, but his first real test in front of the voting public did not go well at all.