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Bloomberg Takes Fire from All Sides in Debate

Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

“We have a grotesque and immoral distribution of wealth and income. Mike Bloomberg owns more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans. That’s wrong, that’s immoral.”

In a heated debate ahead of the Nevada Democratic Caucus, the biggest story of the night was the presence of Mike Bloomberg, billionaire and former Republican Mayor of New York City, on stage.

Through an advertising blitz and limited public exposure, Bloomberg has rocketed to third place in many recent national polls despite joining the race just 10 weeks ago.

However, opposition campaigns have attacked him for his mayoral record, past sexist comments, and his career supporting Republicans including George W. Bush in 2004.

There was some speculation that Bloomberg would skip the debate, but the other Democratic candidates had the opportunity to confront Bloomberg on the national stage.

Attacks Against Bloomberg

The earliest attacks of the night against Bloomberg came from Senator Elizabeth Warren. After a third-place finish in Iowa and fourth place in New Hampshire, the Warren campaign is looking to move the needle in Nevada to gain momentum.

Warren particularly went after the many non-disclosure agreements between Bloomberg and former female employees.

Warren turned the morally questionable past of Bloomberg into an argument about electability when she said, “this is not just a question of the Mayor’s character, this is also a question about electability. We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has who knows how many non-disclosure agreements.”

Bloomberg did not deny the existence of the non-disclosure agreements, but he said that he would not release anyone in the agreement from them.

The former mayor also took heat for his record of racist policies including stop-and-frisk and redlining, a practice of refusing loans to people based on their neighborhood.

Amy Klobuchar also joined in on the attacks against Bloomberg, taking issue with Bloomberg’s late entrance into the race.

Even former Vice President Joe Biden joined in on the Bloomberg bashing and attacked his record of support for George W. Bush and his tepid support for many of President Obama’s policies.

Perhaps the most heated exchange came between Bloomberg and Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders directly called out Bloomberg’s accumulation of wealth and called it ‘grotesque’ and ‘immoral’ that one man owns more wealth than the poorest 125 million Americans.

Moderate In-Fighting

Bloomberg was not the only candidate facing fire, a tense exchange between Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg also emerged. Klobuchar fielded a question about her inability to name the President of Mexico in an interview, and Buttigieg pounced on the opportunity.

Buttigieg pointed out that Klobuchar sits on multiple committees that oversee issues directly related to Mexico.

However, Warren jumped to the defense of Amy Klobuchar, “missing a name all by itself does not indicate that you do not understand what’s going on.”

While Warren defended Klobuchar here, she attacked Klobuchar and Buttigieg’s healthcare plans. Warren called Buttigieg’s plan “a PowerPoint” and Klobuchar’s “like a post-it note”.

The attacks between those struggling to poll well nationally indicate that an urgency to win delegates before the money and power of Bloomberg enter the race.

Contested Convention

Leaving the verbal and ideological spats aside, a key question arose near the end of the debate about the prospect of a contested convention if no candidate wins an outright majority of delegates.

With Bernie Sanders considered to be the solid frontrunner, all other candidates rejected the idea that the candidate with the most delegates and votes should win the nomination in the event. Sanders was the only candidate to state that the person with the most votes should win.

Nevada is scheduled as the next state to vote for the Democratic candidate, and Sanders is expected to win the state. But, with a big field, the possibility of a contested convention looms over the entire process.

South Carolina’s primary will take place on February 29 before Super Tuesday on March 3, when Bloomberg will appear on the ballot.

Alec Pronk

Alec is a freelance writer with an interest in both geopolitics and American domestic issues. He finished his Master's degree with a critical focus on government counterterrorism policies.

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