Debate night brawl: Bloomberg, Sanders attacked by rivals

From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas.

New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg played defense in his presidential debate debut, as Democrats savaged the former mayor with questions about his record and past comments related to race, gender and his personal wealth.

Posted: Feb 20, 2020 6:02 AM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — From the opening bell, Democrats savaged New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg and raised pointed questions about Bernie Sanders' take-no-prisoners politics during a contentious debate Wednesday night that threatened to further muddy the party's urgent quest to defeat President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who was once a Republican, was forced to defend his record and past comments related to race, gender and his personal wealth in an occasionally rocky debate stage debut. Sanders, meanwhile, tried to beat back pointed questions about his embrace of democratic socialism and his health following a heart attack last year.

The ninth debate of this cycle featured the most aggressive sustained period of infighting in the Democrats’ yearlong search for a presidential nominee. The tension reflected growing anxiety among candidates and party leaders that the nomination fight could yield a candidate who will struggle to build a winning coalition in November to beat Trump.

The campaign is about to quickly intensify. Nevada votes on Saturday and South Carolina follows on February 29. More than a dozen states host Super Tuesday contests in less than two weeks with about one-third of the delegates needed to win the nomination at stake.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was in a fight for survival and stood out with repeated attacks on Bloomberg. She sought to undermine him with core Democratic voters who are uncomfortable with his vast wealth, his offensive remarks about policing of minorities and demeaning comments about women, including those who worked at his company.

Warren labeled Bloomberg "a billionaire who calls people fat broads and horse-faced lesbians."

She wasn’t alone.

Sanders lashed out at Bloomberg's policing policies as New York City mayor that Sanders said targeted “African-American and Latinos in an outrageous way."

And former Vice President Joe Biden charged that Bloomberg’s “stop-and-frisk” policy ended up “throwing 5 million black men up against the wall.”

Watching during his Western campaign swing, Trump joined the Bloomberg pile on. “Mini Mike Bloomberg’s debate performance tonight was perhaps the worst in the history of debates, and there have been some really bad ones,” Trump tweeted. “He was stumbling, bumbling and grossly incompetent. If this doesn’t knock him out of the race, nothing will. Not so easy to do what I did!”

After the debate, Warren told reporters: "I have no doubt that Michael Bloomberg is reaching in his pocket right now, and spending another hundred million dollars to try to erase every American's memory about what happened on the debate stage."

On a night that threatened to tarnish the shine of his carefully constructed TV-ad image, Bloomberg faltered when attacked on issues related to race and gender. But he was firm and unapologetic about his wealth and how he has used it to affect change important to Democrats. He took particular aim at Sanders and his self-description as a democratic socialist.

“I don’t think there's any chance of the senator beating Donald Trump," Bloomberg declared before noting Sanders' rising wealth. "The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses!"

Sanders defended owning multiple houses, noting he has one in Washington, where he works, and two in Vermont, the state he represents in the Senate.

While Bloomberg was the shiny new object Wednesday, the debate also marked a major test for Sanders, who is emerging as the front-runner in the Democrats’ nomination fight, whether his party’s establishment likes it or not. A growing group of donors, elected officials and political operatives fear that Sanders’ uncompromising progressive politics could be a disaster in the general election against Trump, yet they’ve struggled to coalesce behind a single moderate alternative.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, went after both Bloomberg and Sanders, warning that one threatened to “burn down” the Democratic Party and the other was trying to buy it.

He called them “the two most polarizing figures on this stage," with little chance of defeating Trump or helping congressional Democrats in contests with Republicans.

Bloomberg and Sanders were prime targets, but the stakes were no less dire for the other four candidates on stage.

Longtime establishment favorite Biden, a two-term vice president, desperately needed to breathe new life into his flailing campaign, which entered the night at the bottom of a moderate muddle behind Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. And after a bad finish last week in New Hampshire, Warren was fighting to resurrect her stalled White House bid.

A Warren campaign aide said on Twitter that her fiery first hour of debate was her best hour of fundraising "to date."

The other leading progressive in the race, Sanders came under attack from Biden and Bloomberg for his embrace of democratic socialism.

Sanders, as he has repeatedly over the last year, defended the cost of his signature “Medicare for All” healthcare plan, which would eliminate the private insurance industry in favor of a government-backed healthcare system that would cover all Americans.

"When you asked Bernie how much it cost last time he said...'We'll find out,’” Biden quipped. “It costs over $35 trillion, let's get real."

And ongoing animosity flared between Buttigieg and Klobuchar when the former Indiana mayor slammed the three-term Minnesota senator for failing to answer questions in a recent interview about Mexican policy and forgetting the name of the Mexican president.

Buttigieg noted that she's on a committee that oversees trade issues in Mexico and she “was not able to speak to literally the first thing about the politics of the country.”

She shot back: "Are you trying to say I'm dumb? Are you mocking me here?"

Later in the night she lashed out at Buttigieg again: “I wish everyone else was as perfect as you, Pete.”

The debate closed with a question about the possibility that Democrats remain divided deep into the primary season with a final resolution coming during a contested national convention in July.

Asked if the candidate with the most delegates should be the nominee -- even if he or she is short of a delegate majority, almost every candidate suggested that the convention process should "work its way out," as Biden put it.

Sanders, who helped force changes to the nomination process this year and hopes to take a significant delegate lead in the coming weeks, was the only exception.

“The person who has the most votes should become the nominee,” he said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93012

Reported Deaths: 2040
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26447926
Ramsey10697319
Dakota7354125
Anoka5935132
Stearns390924
Washington368955
Scott250033
Olmsted236728
Nobles195416
Blue Earth16476
Wright15737
St. Louis148039
Carver13897
Clay134040
Rice13228
Mower13125
Sherburne112514
Kandiyohi9722
Winona86318
Lyon6674
Waseca6128
Steele5332
Freeborn5323
Benton5303
Nicollet52116
Watonwan5164
Todd4872
Crow Wing48118
McLeod4752
Chisago4711
Le Sueur4524
Otter Tail4224
Beltrami4055
Martin37210
Goodhue3519
Pine3090
Itasca30314
Polk2984
Douglas2862
Isanti2790
Becker2642
Carlton2561
Cottonwood2240
Morrison2221
Dodge2180
Pipestone21710
Chippewa2061
Meeker1942
Sibley1863
Wabasha1830
Brown1822
Yellow Medicine1752
Rock1640
Cass1593
Murray1582
Mille Lacs1543
Redwood1541
Unassigned15052
Renville1427
Jackson1411
Faribault1360
Swift1271
Houston1210
Koochiching1213
Kanabec1178
Roseau1170
Pennington1161
Fillmore1110
Lincoln1080
Hubbard941
Stevens941
Pope920
Big Stone760
Aitkin751
Wadena670
Wilkin613
Grant594
Lake580
Norman530
Lac qui Parle501
Marshall501
Mahnomen461
Red Lake421
Traverse290
Clearwater270
Lake of the Woods211
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 83644

Reported Deaths: 1294
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15697261
Woodbury526363
Johnson508627
Black Hawk443688
Linn3941110
Story340517
Dubuque310141
Scott292628
Dallas275138
Pottawattamie206838
Buena Vista197212
Marshall177034
Sioux15043
Wapello131457
Webster121614
Plymouth110420
Clinton109920
Muscatine109154
Crawford10655
Cerro Gordo101821
Warren9486
Jasper81732
Des Moines7647
Marion7536
Tama70431
Henry6854
Carroll6535
Lee6207
Wright5721
Dickinson5086
Boone5008
Bremer4837
Washington45311
Louisa42815
Mahaska39119
Delaware3833
Franklin34618
Floyd3363
Jackson3303
Winneshiek3246
Hamilton3223
Clay3164
Lyon3074
Benton3061
Hardin2951
Winnebago28913
Poweshiek2788
Butler2672
Buchanan2651
Clarke2643
Jones2643
Emmet26010
Shelby2581
Allamakee2566
Kossuth2540
Chickasaw2470
Clayton2443
Sac2440
Guthrie2416
Cedar2381
Cherokee2352
Grundy2193
Madison2122
Fayette2112
Harrison2073
Iowa1981
Mitchell1880
Howard1866
Humboldt1843
Palo Alto1830
Calhoun1793
Hancock1772
Mills1771
Cass1602
Monroe15710
Pocahontas1562
Lucas1536
Page1530
Osceola1510
Monona1451
Jefferson1371
Appanoose1333
Union1283
Taylor1271
Davis1244
Ida1151
Van Buren1131
Fremont1100
Keokuk1051
Worth1040
Greene990
Montgomery905
Wayne852
Audubon811
Adair691
Decatur670
Ringgold492
Adams330
Unassigned40
Rochester
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 76°
Mason City
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 81°
Albert Lea
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 81°
Charles City
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 80°
Cooler temperatures are almost here
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Ivanka Trump Campaigns Through Southeast Minnesota

Image

Art infused downtown Rochester

Image

Ivanka Trump stumps in Rochester

Image

Former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Stumps for Biden

Image

Voting curbside on election day

Image

Sara's Evening Forecast - Friday

Image

Trump campaign advisor encourages in-person voting

Image

Virtual Yom Kippur

Image

Community Kitchen seeing a boost

Image

A safe Covid-19 fall activity: the apple orchard

Community Events