in Las Vegas, Michael Bloomberg assailed by critics by his rivals

Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden during the Democratic Primary debate in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 19.
Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden during the Democratic Primary debate in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 19. MARIO TAMA / AFP

“An arrogant billionaire” who supported “Racist politics” : White House candidate Michael Bloomberg was severely criticized on Wednesday February 19 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.

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“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 “, attacked the progressive senator Elizabeth Warren, causing amazed cries in the room. She immediately accused him of having “Supported racist policies”, with particular reference to arbitrary stop-and-frisk arrests, accused of having sparked an explosion of facial checks in New York when he was mayor of the city.

This practice, for which Mr. Bloomberg recently apologized after having defended it for a long time, was aimed at “African Americans and Hispanics indecently”thundered 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”.

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“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.

“Replace one billionaire with another”

“Democrats take huge risk if we just replace one arrogant billionaire with another”, on the contrary launched Mme Warren. Having not faced a debate in more than a decade, Bloomberg sometimes seemed to be on the sidelines, moving from a hesitant tone to firmer accents. Too much, sometimes, to the taste of the public who booed after certain answers deemed brittle. Ninth richest man in the world in 2019 according to Forbes, Michael Bloomberg presents himself as a candidate capable of gathering at 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. So it also received its share of heavy attacks.

Bernie Sanders is now well ahead of the national average for polls set by RealClearPolitics (27.8%), ahead of 77-year-old former moderate vice president Joe Biden (17.8%). Without having yet presented himself with a single primary, Michael Bloomberg climbed him to third place (16.1%). Elizabeth Warren was down in fourth place, followed by two upbeat moderates, ex-mayor of South Bend (Indiana) Pete Buttigieg and then senator Amy Klobuchar.

The Buttigieg alternative

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, on the screens in the press room of the Democratic Debate in Las Vegas on February 19.
The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, on the screens in the press room of the Democratic Debate in Las Vegas on February 19. BRIDGET BENNETT / AFP

Building on his successes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Buttigieg tried on 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 ignore the first four states to vote in February. At 78, he will therefore enter the race during “Super Tuesday” on March 3, when fourteen other states will vote.

With a personal fortune estimated at around 60 billion dollars (55 billion euros), he has already spent more than 300 million in advertising spots. 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”launched the Republican President to thousands of supporters from Arizona. Wednesday’s debate is held in Nevada because this state will organize the third primary vote on Saturday.

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