LAS VEGAS, Nevada | “Arrogant billionaire” who supported “racist politics”: White House candidate Michael Bloomberg was sharply criticized on Wednesday by his rivals for the Democratic nomination from the start of his first televised campaign debate.
Rare intensity was immediately raised during the democratic debate organized in Las Vegas, Nevada, between the candidates who hope to challenge the Republican Donald Trump during the presidential election in November.
Independent senator Bernie Sanders, a top poll favorite, has also received his share of heavy attacks.
“I would like to talk about our opponent. A billionaire who treats women of fat girls and lesbians with horse heads. And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Michael Bloomberg, “said progressive senator Elizabeth Warren, causing stunned shouts in the room.
She immediately accused him of having “supported racist policies”, in particular with reference to arbitrary arrests and searches (“stop-and-frisk”), accused of having sparked an explosion of facial checks in New York. when he was mayor of the city.
The practice, which Bloomberg recently apologized for after defending it for a long time, targeted “African-Americans and Hispanics indecently,” stunned Bernie Sanders.
Faced with these accusations taken up by others on the set, Michael Bloomberg sought to present himself as the democrat most apt to win the presidential election of November 3, notably by tackling the socialist Bernie Sanders, who, according to him, ” no chance of beating President Trump. ”
“Who can beat Donald Trump?” And who can do the job if he gets to the White House? I would say that I am the candidate who can do these two things, “added Bloomberg, recalling his past as mayor of a cosmopolitan city and his investments in philanthropic causes.
“Democrats take a huge risk if we just replace one arrogant billionaire with another,” said Warren.
Having not faced a debate in more than a decade, Bloomberg at times seemed withdrawn, moving from a hesitant tone to firmer overtones. Too much, sometimes, to the taste of the public who booed after certain answers deemed brittle.
Buttigieg attack Sanders
Ninth richest man in the world in 2019 according to Forbes, Michael Bloomberg presents himself as a candidate capable of rallying in the center. The head of the news agency Bloomberg finances his candidacy with hundreds of millions of dollars from his personal funds.
Bernie Sanders, 78, has experienced strong growth since his excellent results in the first two states to vote: Iowa and New Hampshire.
He is now clearly ahead of the national average of polls established by the RealClearPolitics site (27.8%), ahead of former moderate vice president Joe Biden (17.8%), 77 years old.
Without having yet run for a single primary, 78-year-old Michael Bloomberg climbed to third place (16.1%).
Elizabeth Warren lost speed in fourth place (12.3%), followed by two moderates with the wind in their sails, the former mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg (10.3%) then Senator Amy Klobuchar ( 6.4%).
Building on his successes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Buttigieg tried Wednesday to present himself as an alternative between MM. Sanders and Bloomberg.
“Most Americans do not find themselves there if they have to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is at the root of all evils and a billionaire who thinks that money must be at the root of all powers “, He launched.
After entering the campaign very late in November, Bloomberg opted for an extremely rare strategy in the history of the American primaries: to bypass the first four states to vote in February.
At 78, he will therefore enter the race during “Super Tuesday” on March 3, when 14 other states will vote.
With a personal fortune estimated at around $ 60 billion, he has already spent more than $ 300 million on commercials. He underlines his commitment to the fight against climate change and against violence by firearms.
Former Republican who became independent before becoming a Democrat, Bloomberg also puts forward his proposals supposed to help minorities.
Regular and ironic observer of the Democratic race, Donald Trump nicknamed Mr. Bloomberg “Mini Mike”, in allusion to his size (1.70 m). By mocking tweets, he says that Mr. Trump is afraid of facing him at the polls.
“I heard he was being demolished tonight,” said the Republican president in front of thousands of supporters from Arizona.
Wednesday’s debate is held in Nevada because this state will organize the third primary vote on Saturday.