There is at least one thing on which Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders can agree.
The president accused “Mini Mike” Bloomberg of “illegally” trying to buy his way to the presidency in scathing tweets Tuesday, The Hill reported. Bloomberg has come under increasing fire from Trump as well as Democratic primary rivals as he rises in the polls.
Bloomberg, who entered the race late in November, has adopted the unconventional strategy of skipping the early nominating contests to focus on the delegate-rich Super Tuesday battles on March 3. The billionaire has poured more than $300 million into blanketing those targeted states with ads, according to Fox News, prompting criticism from rivals that he is trying to “buy” the election.
In a series of tweets, Trump accused Bloomberg of trying to “pay off” supporters and claimed that the Democratic Party is trying to steal the nomination “again” from Sanders, the current front runner. Trump also mocked Bloomberg’s diminutive stature with the epithet “Mini Mike” and suggested that he would need a box to stand on in order to be seen at Wednesday night’s debate in Nevada.
“What Mini Mike is doing is nothing less than a large scale illegal campaign contribution. He is ‘spreading’ money all over the place, only to have recipients of his cash payments, many former opponents, happily joining or supporting his campaign. Isn’t that called a payoff?” Trump tweeted. “Mini is illegally buying the Democrat Nomination.”
A feud between Trump and Bloomberg has grown more vicious as the former mayor’s campaign appears to be lifting off. Bloomberg called Trump a “carnival barking clown” last week after Trump, who has continually mocked Bloomberg’s height, called his rival a “mass of dead energy.”
They continued their jousting on Tuesday, with Bloomberg tweeting, “Why do you want to run against Bernie so badly?” Trump responded: “Mini Mike. No, I would rather run against you!”
Bloomberg under fire
The billionaire will appear on the debate stage for the first time in Las Vegas after reaching the qualifying threshold in a new poll that placed him second, at 19%, behind Sanders at 31%. Bloomberg is now polling third nationally, according to RealClearPolitics, prompting alarm from Democratic rivals and plenty of criticism from all sides over his unorthodox approach. He has also taken hits over controversial past comments that have resurfaced in recent days.
Bloomberg has been on an apology tour of sorts for defending New York city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, and comments he made patronizing farming as a vocation that doesn’t require much “gray matter” fueled criticism that he is arrogant and out of touch with working people. Sanders responded to Bloomberg with a photo of the billionaire and Trump golfing together after Bloomberg’s campaign accused Sanders of borrowing Trump’s methods by sharing a video of his comments about farmers.
Democratic candidates have also attacked Bloomberg for avoiding facetime with voters by funding his own campaign, which blocked him from participating in debates before a change in the rules was made seemingly just to accommodate Bloomberg. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) quipped that Wednesday evening’s debate will provide a “live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire,” pointedly comparing Bloomberg to Trump.
Sanders is largely seen as the current front runner after strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, but Bloomberg may be close on his heels. His recent surge has made for a natural rivalry with the socialist, who has built a grassroots “revolution” by attacking the rich, with Sanders suggesting:
You know, Mr. Bloomberg has every right in the world to run for president of the United States. He’s an American citizen. But I don’t think he has the right to buy this election.
Trump continued to attack Bloomberg on Wednesday.
Is corrupt Bloomberg News going to say what a pathetic debater Mini Mike is, that he doesn’t respect our great farmers, or that he has violated campaign finance laws at the highest and most sinister level with “payoffs” all over the place?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2020