Through the sheer power of his bank account, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has managed to vault to second place in the Democratic primaries in some national polls. But while his spending spree earned him a spot at the MSNBC debate on Wednesday in Las Vegas, it couldn’t do anything to shield him from the brutal slaughter that was waiting for him on the stage. The other Democrats in the debate – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar – brought their sharpest knives to the stage…and they were all aimed at the guy trying to buy the nomination.
Warren unloaded her attack just as the opening bell sounded: “We’re running against somebody who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians – and no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
Talking through the applause, she continued: “We are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women, and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop-and-frisk.”
Even that was tame compared to later in the night, when the subject turned to women who have filed sexual harassment complaints against Bloomberg and his company. Warren called on the billionaire to release the women from their non-disclosure agreements – an attack that drew an exceedingly weak response from Bloomberg.
“Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?” Warren asked.
“We have very few nondisclosure agreements,” Bloomberg replied. “None of them accused me of doing anything — except, maybe they didn’t like a joke I told. It was agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet, and that’s up to them. They signed those agreements, and we’ll live with it.”
We’re not sure if Michael Bloomberg actually thought that it would work to say, “Hey, the women signed NDAs – who am I but to abide by them?” but…uh, it did not. The crowd turned on him viciously as Warren, Biden, and others on stage rammed home the obvious truth: If Bloomberg wanted to release them from their gag orders, he could do it in a heartbeat.
Trying his best to spin the performance after the debate, Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Skeekey said the hostility of the other candidates proved that the billionaire was the man to beat.
“You know you are a winner when you are drawing attacks from all the candidates,” Skeekey said. “Everyone came to destroy Mike tonight. It didn’t happen. Everyone wanted him to lose his cool. He didn’t do it. He was the grown-up in the room.”
While it’s perhaps true that Bloomberg didn’t “lose his cool” on Wednesday, he also showed that he’s a low-energy candidate on stage who doesn’t have the fire or the charisma to go mano a mano with President Trump. There’s still a chance that his billions, in conjunction with a rigged primary, could buy him the nomination. But if that happens, he’s going to get embarrassed – badly – in the general election.