Well, it took only a few seconds for Micheal Bloomberg’s fellow 2020 presidential hopefuls to go for the jugular tonight at the ninth Democratic debate in Las Vegas. The billionaire and former New York mayor—a latecomer to the race who is accused of buying his way onto the stage with his deep, deep pockets—had a target on his back from the moment the event began.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was the first to come after Bloomberg, attacking the candidate for his controversial stop-and-frisk campaign, during which mostly black and Hispanic New Yorkers were routinely stopped on the street without probable cause.
In order to beat Donald Trump we are going to need the largest voter turnout in the history of our country. Mr. Bloomberg’s record of stop-and-frisk is not going to do that. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/GD2CwkGi5b
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 20, 2020
But it was Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who finished the job, raising her hand almost instantly at the start of the debate and wasting no time in drawing comparisons between Bloomberg and President Trump—two billionaires with questionable records at best.
Elizabeth Warren’s epic smackdown of Mike Bloomberg, an egocentric NYC billionaire with lots of baggage, shows that she’d do well debating another egocentric NYC billionaire with lots of baggage — Donald Trump. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/8DXtYDxFsg
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) February 20, 2020
It kept going after that. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota took on Bloomberg for not releasing his tax returns, something Bloomberg vowed he was working on. Former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg accused Bloomberg of thinking “money ought to be the root of all power.” Even former Vice President Joe Biden—not exactly known for his debate sprightliness during this election season—got in a few good jabs.
Michael Bloomberg makes Joe Biden look 25 years old
— Nomiki Konst (@NomikiKonst) February 20, 2020
Bloomberg, who has been out of politics for a while, was clearly not prepared for a head-to-head debate with seasoned politicians who have been playing this game incessantly for the last six months. He stumbled awkwardly through many of his responses and, at times, seemed barely able to defend his own answers. Several times throughout the debate, he even seemed to tout his own elite bona fides, suggesting at one point that he was too rich to use TurboTax. The fact that he’s polling as high as he is right now is more a testament to the power of advertising than it is to his policy positions or skills as a candidate.
Maybe that’s why one no one on the debate stage seemed to appreciate him being there. It’ll be interesting to see if the former mayor’s surge in the polls continues after his performance tonight.