Bloomberg takes extra flak in his first Democratic debate

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first appearance on the Democratic debate stage found him under attack from all sides in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, as the five other Democrats took turns trying to knock over the candidate who threatens them with a seemingly endless supply of campaign money and television commercials in the 2020 race for the White House.

“Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another," Elizabeth Warren said of Bloomberg and the race to replace President Donald Trump.

In Bloomberg's first chance to speak to voters from the debate, he opted to go after Bernie Sanders on the issue of electability.

"If he is the candidate we will have Donald Trump for another four years," Bloomberg said.

Here is a look at what the six candidates on stage were able to do:

+ ELIZABETH WARREN. After a lackluster debate in New Hampshire, Warren left it all on the field in Vegas. She scorched Bloomberg over his taxes, and called him an 'arrogant billionaire.' She ripped Klobuchar for a "Post-It Note" health plan, and called Buttigieg's health plan a "Power Point" which took up only two paragraphs. But her night on stage in Vegas will be remembered mainly for her verbal broadsides against Bloomberg, especially when she demanded that he release women from non-disclosure agreements, so people could find out how they had been harassed or discriminated against. With the moderators taking a hands off approach, Warren at one point simply asked the questions of Bloomberg herself, making his first debate night a rough one.

+ PETE BUTTIGIEG. While the Indiana Mayor got in some shots at Sanders and Bloomberg along the way, he took several extended jabs at Klobuchar, which would seemingly tell us that he is worried about the Minnesota Senator grabbing away some of his moderate base. "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete," Klobuchar said at one point as the two tangled multiple times. Buttigieg really got under Klobuchar's skin by highlighting how she couldn't come up with the name of the Mexican leader earlier this week. "Are you trying to say I'm dumb?" Klobuchar responded icily. Buttigieg also got his jabs in at Sanders and Bloomberg, reminding people they aren't in the party. "Let's put forward someone who is actually a Democrat," Buttigieg said.

+ JOE BIDEN. Unlike the debate in New Hampshire, Biden did not start his evening by conceding defeat, as the more aggressive version of the former Vice President was repeatedly on display. Biden dinged Bloomberg several times, he again threw elbows over the cost of programs put forward by Sanders, and repeatedly reminded others on stage that he was with President Obama on major issues like health care. But Biden reserved his biggest jabs for Bloomberg, on where he stood on the Obama health law, and how the Obama Administration sent in monitors to deal with the 'stop and frisk' policy of the Bloomberg Administration in New York.

+ BERNIE SANDERS. Normally, Sanders would have probably attracted the most attention in this debate, simply because he is seen in the polls as the front runner, something he reminded the NBC moderators about when they asked him about polls. But with Bloomberg on the debate stage for the first time, Sanders got a little less attention - though he still mixed it up with Bloomberg a number of times. "You know what, Mr. Bloomberg, it wasn't you who made all that money. Maybe your workers played some role in that as well," Sanders said. One of the few times that Sanders found himself playing defense was when a local Nevada issue came up, about the powerful Culinary workers union, and their opposition to his Medicare For All health plan - worried it will do away with the benefits they've gained in their labor efforts.

+ MICHAEL BLOOMBERG. While the attacks on Bloomberg will get the lion's share of attention out of this debate - as we have detailed here, the former mayor of New York also had his share of rejoinders, which were mainly deployed against Sanders. "I don't think there's any of chance of Sanders beating President Trump," Bloomberg said early in the debate. "I'm a New Yorker. I know how to take on an arrogant con man," Bloomberg said of the President. For the first 15-20 minutes, Bloomberg was doing fine in his first debate, even as the moderators tried to make him an issue. But then, Warren moved in, and Bloomberg struggled through the rest of the first segment. Bloomberg used most of his tougher lines against Sanders, clearly seeing him as his chief rival on Super Tuesday.

+ AMY KLOBUCHAR. Klobuchar used her last debate in New Hampshire to take a big jump forward in this campaign, but it wasn't clear she was able to repeat that on the Vegas Strip. Klobuchar started by rebuking Bloomberg's campaign for suggesting that she get out of the race. As mentioned above, the Minnesota Democrat spent a good deal of time squabbling with Buttigieg, as it seemed like Klobuchar might have grabbed Mayor Pete and broken him in two if no one else was in the room. After Bloomberg said he couldn't just 'go to Turbo Tax' to do his taxes and release them, Klobuchar called for transparency on tax issues, comparing it to President Trump. Klobuchar is probably in through Super Tuesday, but it's not an easy way forward. She will try to raise more money on Thursday in Denver.

About the Author