PREVIOUSLY: Rivals have gone after Michael Bloomberg for his past support of Republicans, so he at one point during Tuesday’s debate tried to show how he has been backing Democrats.
That was true in the recent midterm elections, in which Democrats flipped 40 seats to win a majority of the House.
But he almost said that he “bought” those seats, before stopping himself and saying, “I got them.”
“They talk about 40 Democrats. Twenty one of those were people I spent $100 million to help elect,” Bloomberg said. “All of the new Democrats that came in, put Nancy Pelosi in charge, and gave Congress the ability to control this president, I bo—. I got them.”
PREVIOUSLY: Elizabeth Warren again focused on Michael Bloomberg at Tuesday’s debate, confronting him over a comment he allegedly made to a pregnant female employee at Bloomberg LP.
“At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me ‘kill it’ the way that Michael Bloomberg alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees,” she said.
The crowd booed.
“Oh come on,” Bloomberg said.
He said that he never made the comment. “I never said that. And for the record, if she was a teacher in New York City, she would never have had that problem. We treated our teachers the right way, and the unions will tell you exactly that.”
Warren also attacked Bloomberg for a record of supporting Republicans, including Scott Brown the incumbent senator who she defeated in 2012.
The “kill it” comment surfaced in a recent Washington Post story that focused on claims of inappropriate comments he is alleged to have made. After Warren challenged him at last week’s debate to release female employees from non-disclosure agreements they signed to settle complaints over the comments, the Bloomberg campaign said that his company would.
Later, co-moderator Gayle King asked Warren to back up her claim that Bloomberg “told a woman to have an abortion.”
“Her own words,” Warren said.
Bloomberg added, “I never said it, period, end of story. Categorically never said it. When it was accused — when I was accused of doing it, we couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. But right now, I’m sorry if she heard what she thought she heard, or whatever happened. I didn’t take any pleasure in that. And we’ve just got to go on. But I never said it. Come on.”
PREVIOUSLY: Bernie Sanders was the early target of attacks at the Democratic debate on Tuesday, as rivals sought to slow his momentum as the front runner for the nomination.
“I am hearing my name mentioned a bit tonight,” Sanders quipped after the first ten minutes. “I wonder why.”
Sanders was asked the first question — why would voters choose his agenda of Democratic socialism over a robust economy under Donald Trump.
“The economy is doing great for people like Mr. Bloomberg,” Sanders said, before explaining how the economy was working “for the 1 percent.”
Bloomberg responded with a biting dig at reports that Russians are trying to interfere in the election to help Sanders.
“Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be President of the United States and that’s why Russia is helping you get elected Bernie Sanders,” Bloomberg said.
Pete Buttigieg said that the Russians, more than anything, “want chaos,” but he quickly turned that into an attack on Sanders.
“Imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump,” he said. “Think about what that will be like for this country.”
Joe Biden cited reports that in 2012, Sanders considered challenging President Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.
“He thought we should primary Barack Obama,” Biden said.
Even Elizabeth Warren, who shares some of Sanders’ progressive goals, criticized him. “Bernie and I agree on a lot of things. But I think I would be a better president than Bernie,” she said.
She said that she would be able to get things done, pointing to her meticulous policy proposals.
“I dug in. I did the work,” Warren said. “And then Bernie’s team trashed me for it. We need a president who is going to dig in, do the hard work, and actually get it done.”
The first 30 minutes of the debate were somewhat chaotic, as co-moderators Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell at times struggled to gain control as the candidates talked over each other. At one point, Sanders even said, in am moment of frustration, “Moderator! My turn.”
The Democratic infighting reflected what was at stake. The debate is the final event before the South Carolina primary on Saturday, as well as Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states will vote and select more than one-third of the delegates. The field is likely to narrow after that, particularly if Sanders establishes a significant lead in the race. As co-moderator King said at the outset, “This debate may be the last best chance for the candidates to make their case to voters.”
Seven candidates were on the debate stage at the Charleston Gaillard Center, with hundreds of reporters and other media figures watching from a filing center in a nearby ballroom.
The debate was the tenth this cycle but the first hosted by CBS News, with sister cable network BET providing a simulcast and Twitter as a partner. Last week’s debate in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC, drew almost 20 million viewers, setting a record for a Democratic primary debate.
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