Mike Bloomberg took the stage in Las Vegas for his first debate on Wednesday night, and promptly walked into an ambush.
The billionaire former New York mayor took repeated attacks from the five other candidates on stage in the opening minutes for the ninth Democratic debate.
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“Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, comparing Bloomberg to President Trump and slamming him for referring to women as “fat broads and horse-faced lesbians.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders attacked Bloomberg on “stop-and-frisk,” the New York policing policy that was ruled unconstitutional, while former Vice President Joe Biden argued that he, not Bloomberg, is the most electable candidate against Trump.
Bloomberg argued that he is best positioned to defeat Trump, which he said would be “a great contribution to America and my kids.” On stop-and-frisk, he noted that he has apologized.
“We stopped too many people,” he said, and said that if everyone who was wrong at some point on criminal justice stepped aside, “there’d be nobody else up here.”
The tenor of the debate took on fresh urgency, as several campaigns are fighting for survival. Pete Buttigieg warned Democrats to “wake up” before Super Tuesday, saying the race could quickly come down to Bloomberg and Sanders, whom he called “the two most polarizing figures on this stage.”
“One candidate wants to burn this party down and another candidate wants to buy this party out,” he said.
Sanders attacked Buttigieg for taking money from 46 billionaires, and then Buttigieg attacked Sanders over the vicious attacks some of his supporters have engaged in.
“Leadership is about what you draw out of people,” Buttigieg said. “It’s how you inspire people to act… I think you have to accept some responsibility and ask yourself what is motivating that behavior.”
Warren was particularly aggressive, attacking three of her rivals’ health care plans in less than a minute. She said that Klobuchar’s plan is “like a Post-it that says ‘insert plan here.'”
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