WASHINGTON | Finally descended into the arena of the Democratic primaries, the billionaire Michael Bloomberg had to cash the violent attacks of his opponents during a first televised debate Wednesday evening which showed the weaknesses of his candidacy.
Campaign continues Thursday before third presidential primaries vote on Saturday in Nevada, first time large numbers of Latino and black voters will speak, after Iowa and New Hampshire steps earlier this month .
At this point, Senator Bernie Sanders has strong momentum leading the polls, but eight candidates remain in the running. There are still months of primaries until the nomination convention in July.
It’s been six years since Bloomberg, who just celebrated his 78th birthday, left New York City Hall, six years since he ran out of politics. Conversely, he had become a highly courted charitable and political patron – he gave $ 10 billion to multiple institutions, environmental, anti-gun and pro-immigration causes, and funded multiple Democratic candidates to parliamentary or local elections in recent years.
The boss of the eponymous news agency, the world’s ninth largest fortune, is used to being greeted on a red carpet in major international climate conclaves, and is clearly no longer used to being shaken.
His opponents, starting with Senator Elizabeth Warren, used Wednesday’s Las Vegas debate to thwart the flood of publicity that Michael Bloomberg has been pouring since his late entry into the campaign in late November on television and on the internet. On YouTube, clips promoting “Mike ”’s candidacy are ubiquitous. He spent more than $ 400 million on his personal funds, an incredible amount for his rivals.
These expenses quickly made him gain notoriety and the impact can be seen in the polls: he rose in February to third place in several opinion polls, which rages the Democrats who for more than a year campaign on the ground, raise funds with $ 10 or $ 50, have done eight debates before and have written thick programs.
“Democrats would take a huge risk if we just replaced one arrogant billionaire with another,” said Warren, 70.
The Bloomberg candidacy also engaged the Democrats in a risky debate on capitalism itself, the party being de facto taken by storm by a “democratic socialist”, Bernie Sanders, who never formally adopted the ‘Democrat label and said that billionaires should not exist, and a formerly Republican billionaire who considers his wealth well-deserved.
Sixteen times, the word “billionaire” was spoken during this two-hour debate, the most virulent to date.
“The Americans find themselves a little lost in having to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the source of all their ills, and a billionaire who thinks that money is the source of all power”, asserted Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of an average city and representing the moderate wing of the party. “What if we chose a real democrat?”
Elizabeth Warren has undoubtedly had her most memorable debate: she has been pugnacious and distributed while explaining what a Warren Presidency would be, focused on improving the standard of living of families financed by a new wealth tax. very wealthy, having over $ 50 million.
“It is a tax on the tenth of the richest 1% in America,” she said, listing her projects: childcare, crèche and free universal school from the first year of life, while school shipping generally starts at 5 years in the United States; new investments in schools, cancellation of student debts …
“I don’t agree with wealth tax, but I agree that the wealthy don’t pay enough,” said Michael Bloomberg, who wants to convince Democrats that his experience as a business owner is the right one to beat Donald Trump in November and run the country for the next four years.
For the billionaire, the first electoral test will take place on March 3, when 14 states will vote at the same time.