The gloves quickly fell off, Vermont independent senator Bernie Sanders criticizing Michael Bloomberg for the controversial practice of Stop and frisk (arrest and search), which allowed New York police, among others when he was mayor, to search those they suspected of having a weapon and which mainly targeted African-Americans.
Soon after, it was Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren’s turn to call him a sexist, citing reports published in recent days.
I would like to talk about the one against whom we are running, a billionaire who treats the women of fat ladies and lesbians with horse faces. I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about mayor Bloomberg, she said.
Democrats won’t win if we have a candidate who hides his tax returns, supports racist policies like redlining [une pratique discriminatoire des institutions financières visant à refuser les prêts aux citoyens de secteurs précis] and discriminatory searches, she added.
I will support the Democratic candidate, whoever he is. But understand this, Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.
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A long-awaited debate
In a traditional scenario, attention would focus on the leader, independent senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who is now ahead of ex-vice-president Joe Biden by more than 10 points in voting intentions with almost 30% of support according to the average of the most recent polls.
But American policy defying almost any norm in recent years, this debate brings a new twist: the more formal appearance of Michael Bloomberg, arrived very late in the race, who has so far not participated in any debate or no primary election.
Ironically, his name does not even appear on the ballots of Nevada, the state where tonight’s debate is taking place, which will hold its caucuses on Saturday. Dismissing the first four states of the race, Michael Bloomberg is betting on the states of the super Tuesday, March 3, and the following ones.
Now second or third in national voting intentions, the ex-Republican climbs into the polls after being invited to, or even imposed on, a good number of American voters with hundreds of millions invested in television advertising and digital.
Probably targeted from all sides
The rivals of Michael Bloomberg already accuse him of wanting to buy the nomination, an argument which will be undoubtedly taken up this evening, in particular by Bernie Sanders, who built his career by denouncing a system favoring the millionaires and the billionaires, and by the Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who also made it a central theme of her campaign.
If, through his advertisements, Michael Bloomberg has so far been able to present himself in a favorable light for the voters, it is the first time that he will have to defend his record, in particular compared to African-Americans, and his past declarations, and the attacks, on several themes, should fuse from all sides.
Several downright racist or sexist comments – some proven, others alleged – have been reported in the media in recent days.
It remains to be seen in this context how the other candidates who are trying to impose themselves on the center lane, already very busy, will be able to stand out: the ex-mayor of South Bend, in Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, leader in terms of delegates , Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who did well in New Hampshire last week after delivering an excellent debate a few days earlier, and ex-Vice President Joe Biden, who has a big slope to go up.
The latter does not appreciate, among other things, that the former Republican seems to indicate in a misleading-looking advertisement having the support of former Vice-President Barack Obama.
If his rivals are in their ninth debate, Michael Bloomberg, whose last oratorical match dates back 11 years, will be able to share a scene with them for the first time thanks to a change in the criteria for participation.
Still based on the polls, the National Democratic Committee, however – to the chagrin of several candidates – abandoned the criterion linked to the number of donors, thus paving the way for the multi-billionaire, who entirely self-finances his campaign.
The debate is broadcast on NBC and MSNBC.