Bernie, Warren & Everyone Else Came For Bloomberg At The Democratic Debate

Photo: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC/Getty Images.
Mega-billionaire Michael Bloomberg was in the hot seat during the ninth Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.
As his prospects and poll numbers have risen — maybe because he spent a small fortune on ads — the former New York City mayor has also sustained criticism for discriminatory policies such as stop and frisk and redlining. The fact of the nearly 40 sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits brought against him and his media empire over the years has also come into question.
The other 2020 presidential candidates have not held back when it comes to Bloomberg after he made his late entry into the race. Former Vice President Joe Biden has questioned his status as a Democrat (Bloomberg changed his registration to run for NYC mayor as a Republican in 2001 — and switched back to Democrat about, uh, a minute ago), and others have accused him of trying to buy his way to the nomination. After Bloomberg qualified for the debate, his first, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted that "at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire." Pretty much everyone else on-stage at the debate on Wednesday — Biden, Warren, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Sen. Bernie Sanders — took a jab or several at Bloomberg.
Despite spending over $300 million of his own cash to boost his profile, by many accounts Bloomberg had a spotty, uneven performance. Ahead, we took notes of the debate's key moments.

Bernie vs. Bloomberg takes an unexpected turn.

The debate kicks off with Bernie vs. Bloomberg. For the first question of the night, NBC’s Lester Holt asks Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, how his “revolution” will beat Bloomberg’s moderate approach. But it's Warren who steals their big moment. “I'd like to talk about who we're running against: a billionaire who calls women 'fat broads' and 'horse-faced lesbians,'” she says. It's a moment that showed she came to play and set the tone for a fiery debate. (Side note: MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell said that Bloomberg and Warren were cordial to each other during a commercial break.)

Elizabeth Warren name-checks every candidate on healthcare.

Warren isn't done yet. She proceeds to call out every candidate’s healthcare plan as insufficient compared to her own: "[Mayor Buttigieg's is] not a plan. It’s a PowerPoint. And Amy’s plan is even less. It’s like a Post-it note: 'Insert plan here.'" Klobuchar, who supports a Medicaid-based public option, comes to her plan's defense. Never forgetting her Minnesota pride, she also retorts, "I must say, I take personal offense since Post-it Notes were invented in my state!"

The #MeToo movement takes center-stage as Warren puts Bloomberg on blast over NDAs.

Warren takes Bloomberg to task for "muzzling" women at his company with nondisclosure agreements (NDAs). His defense? "None of them accuse me of doing anything other than, maybe they didn't like a joke I told," Bloomberg says to groans from the audience, adding that he would not release the content of the NDAs. "I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior that the #MeToo movement has exposed," Bloomberg says, adding that his company has investigated the complaints and that he has elevated many women to leadership positions.
"I hope you heard what his defense was: 'I've been nice to some women.' That just doesn't cut it," Warren says to applause.

Warren comes to Amy Klobuchar's defense in a girl power moment.

After Buttigieg harps on Klobuchar forgetting the name of Mexico's president, Warren comes to her defense saying that a little faux pas is not the same as having incomplete policies. It's yet another moment of solidarity for women candidates in 2020.

Warren stands up for environmental justice.

"For generations now in this country, toxic waste dumps and polluting factories have been located in or near communities of color," Warren says.

Um, should billionaires exist?

The question that everyone (except Bloomberg) has been waiting for finally comes up: Should billionaires exist? Klobuchar says she believes in capitalism, but it's an unbalanced system. Sanders, to no surprise, denounces the existence of billionaires and calls Bloomberg "immoral." Bloomberg defends himself, saying that a lot of the money he has made is donated back into the country's infrastructure. Reminder that Bloomberg is currently worth $61.8 billion, and is the richest person to ever run for president.

Bernie is more of a millennial than Pete Buttigieg.

When asked why Bernie Sanders has connected more with young voters than Pete Buttigieg, who is actually a millennial, Buttigieg replies: "Actually, I was into Bernie before it was cool," referring to an essay he wrote in 2000 praising Sanders.

Buttigieg vs. Klobuchar on DREAMers: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete."

When Buttigieg goes after her record on the DREAM Act — and speaks Spanish — Klobuchar retorts, "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete," later quipping, "You memorized a bunch of talking points."

In conclusion...

To conclude a dramatic debate, candidates make closing statements:
Amy Klobuchar: "You need someone who has the heart to be president."
Mike Bloomberg: "This is a management job."
Pete Buttigieg: "The only way we can do this is to create a sense of belonging in this country. We cannot afford to lean on the same Washington playbook."
Elizabeth Warren: "Give me a chance — I'll go to the White House and fight for your family."
Joe Biden: "I'm running because so many people are being left behind."
Biden's closing statement is interrupted by an immigrant-rights group:
Bernie Sanders: "Real change never takes place from the top down. We need to mobilize millions of people to stand up for justice."

Who won the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas?

Elizabeth Warren had the strongest night of anyone by far, and pundits are saying her new, more forward approach worked: "I was surprised that Warren changed up her strategy," said Politico campaign reporter Alex Thompson. "In past debates, she has stayed steady, almost never deviating from the strategy of staying above the fray and not criticizing opponents. But with her candidacy in deep trouble, she changed it up and embraced the tougher approach that made her a left-wing hero earlier this decade. After a year of sticking doggedly to the plan, I was surprised her campaign tried something new — but it worked."

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