From one candidate to another, Joe Biden had a simple message for Mike Bloomberg after the billionaire former New York City mayor faced harsh criticism during his first Democratic primary debate on Wednesday night: “Welcome to the party, man.”
The former vice president recalled what he told Bloomberg during a post-debate interview on MSNBC.
“Now that you’ve spent these hundreds of millions of dollars going out making the case that you’re the Democrat and you’ve done all these things, now you’re going to be [scrutinized],” Biden said on MSNBC.
Bloomberg, who spent more than $337 million in a nationwide ad blitz that helped raise his national polling numbers and qualify for Wednesday’s debate, was blasted throughout by the other five candidates over his massive campaign spending, his history of championing discriminatory “stop-and-frisk” police policies and a number of allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination around him and his company.
In one of the viral moments from the debate stage, Sen. Elizabeth Warren grilled Bloomberg on his sexual harassment allegations and pressed him to release the women who accused him from their confidentiality agreements so they could speak publicly about their stories.
“I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior that the #MeToo movement has exposed,” Bloomberg said, defending himself and listing off the number of women who work for his company and examples of women who have had leading administration roles during his three-term tenure as mayor.
“I hope you heard what his defense was: ‘I’ve been nice to some women,’ ” Warren quickly shot back. “That just doesn’t cut it. What we need to know is what’s lurking out there.”
Warren then went on. “So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?” she asked.
“None of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told,” Bloomberg said, as the Las Vegas crowd audibly groaned at his response.
Bloomberg also faced backlash from Sen. Bernie Sanders on his massive wealth. He is the 12th richest man in the world, while Sanders — though a multi-millionaire himself — has built his campaign on grassroots fundraising and a message aimed at the working class.
“The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?” Bloomberg said, taking a shot at Sanders, who currently leads the Democratic race.
“Well, you’ll miss that I work in Washington, house one. [I] live in Burlington, house two,” Sanders responded as Bloomberg quipped in the background. “And like thousands of other Vermonters, I do have a summer camp. Forgive me for that. Where is your home? Which tax haven do you have your home?”
The nation will get its first view of how voters are taking to Bloomberg, his massive advertising campaign, and his disastrous showing in Wednesday night’s debate, on Saturday when the Nevada caucus results come in.
Another telling point will be “Super Tuesday” voting on March 3, when 14 states’ delegates are up for grabs.
Ahead of “Super Tuesday,” where 1,357 delegates will be decided (1,991 are needed to win the Democratic nomination), the Los Angeles Times reports that Bloomberg has already spent more than $124 million in ad buys. Sanders, who currently leads the Democratic race with former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, has spent less than $10 million.
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