Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) went to the debate stage in Nevada girded for battle.
With a flagging presidential campaign, the senator was desperate to stand out on Wednesday night, and stand out she did. Warren pulled no punches — not for her “friend” Bernie Sanders, and certainly not for billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who ended up having a disastrous first debate thanks to her blistering attacks.
“Listen, this was a disaster for Bloomberg,” CNN’s Van Jones said, according to the Daily Beast. “Bloomberg went in as the Titanic — billion-dollar-machine Titanic. Titanic, meet iceberg Elizabeth Warren.”
Warren scorches Bloomberg
Bloomberg avoided the debates until Wednesday and opted to skip the early primaries as well, choosing instead to blanket Super Tuesday states with ads. The goal for him was simple enough: after surging to third place nationally, he just needed to make a strong first impression. As for Warren, the senator’s campaign has been in free fall after two disappointing showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, which her rival for the progressive wing, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), swept to become the Democrats’ clear frontrunner.
In other words, it was Warren’s debate to win and Bloomberg’s to lose. Warren, who has long cultivated a brand as a fighter of corruption and a warrior for the working class against billionaires, did not miss an opportunity to ruin his night. Within moments, the gloves were off:
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. 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.
Warren came out SWINGING at Bloomberg pic.twitter.com/3D8bnvvm4m
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) February 20, 2020
Warren continued to slam Bloomberg for his support of the controversial stop-and-frisk policy, accusing him of “willful ignorance” of its effects, and she grilled him on non-disclosure agreements that he signed with numerous women who had accused him of sexual harassment. At the lowest point of the evening for Bloomberg, he was trying to defend having signed the hush agreements to a chorus of loud boos from the audience.
“His answer on women was terrible,” Jones said. “He got destroyed on the NDA question, his answer on stop and frisk was as bad as it could possibly be, and then he basically lied on his answer when it came to redlining. He let people down tonight.”
The opening salvo set the tone for what turned out to be, without question, the most entertaining and vicious debate of the season so far. Bloomberg never quite recovered from that first shot, and the rest of the candidates joined the pile-on — slamming Bloomberg over stop-and-frisk, his tax returns, his treatment of women and his personal wealth.
In a night that seemed to never slow down, with personal attacks flying on all sides, Warren stood out as the most aggressive debater. The grassroots-funded senator went after former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg for accepting donations from the wealthy, slammed Biden for being too friendly with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), dismissed Amy Klobuchar’s health care plan as reducible to a “Post-it Note,” and even attacked Sanders for “gambling on a revolution” that wouldn’t unify the electorate.
The irony, of course, is that Warren plummeted thanks in part to her lack of clarity and transparency on her health care plan. But, she fought like there was nothing to lose, and she left an impression.
At a campaign event Thursday, Warren told her supporters it was her “job to make sure America got a little closer look at Mayor Bloomberg” and vowed that he won’t be the nominee, according to Fox News. She could be right or wrong, but Bloomberg’s odds certainly look worse now than they did before.
Warren’s campaign may not have much of a future, but you can’t say she went down without a fight.