Ahead of the Democrats’ heated presidential primary debate in Las Vegas Wednesday night, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) saved everyone the trouble and went ahead and declared the winner in advance: “Trump.”
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 19, 2020
After what turned out to be the most watched Democratic presidential primary debate ever, a lot of people who watched the bruising spectacle agreed with Cruz’s preemptive declaration – among them the man who made his debate debut at the event.
In a campaign appearance in Utah the day after the bloody debate, Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg admitted to supporters that Cruz’s prediction ended up being correct.
“Look, the real winner of the debate last night was Donald Trump,” Bloomberg said Thursday, as reported by NBC News’ Maura Barrett (no relation).
The multi-billionaire then made clear what he meant by the assertion: Choosing a democratic socialist, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), instead of a more mainstream candidate, like himself, will end up handing Trump the victory in November.
“If we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base – like Senator Sanders – it will be a fatal error,” said Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York City.
It’s the morning after @MikeBloomberg’s first debate stage appearance. In Salt Lake City, UT he says: “Look, the real winner of the debate last night was Donald Trump … If we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base – like Senator Sanders – it will be a fatal error.” pic.twitter.com/nso8CKEDoA
— Maura Barrett (@MauraBarrettNBC) February 20, 2020
That Bloomberg would express dissatisfaction with how things went in Vegas is not surprising. The latecomer was by far the biggest target of the other five candidates on the stage and ended up starring in multiple video clips that some outlets have already predicted will be the demise of his recently ascendant campaign.
Massachusetts’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose campaign is running on fumes after her disappointing performances in the first two primary contests, hit Bloomberg for a past “horse-faced” comment right out of the gate.
“I’d like to talk about who we are running against, a billionaire who calls women, ‘fat broads,’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians,’” said Warren, who was standing at the podium next to Bloomberg on the stage. “And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg. Democrats 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. Look, I’ll support whoever the Democratic nominee is. But understand this: Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”
Warren came out SWINGING at Bloomberg pic.twitter.com/3D8bnvvm4m
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) February 20, 2020
But that wasn’t the exchange that Politico and others have pointed to as potentially campaign-destroying for the former mayor. That moment came later, when Warren pressed Bloomberg on inappropriate comments he allegedly made to past female employees and their subsequent nondisclosure agreements. When he dodged the question by pointing out that his company has received accolades for how it treats employees, Warren unloaded.
“I hope you heard what his defense was, ‘I’ve been nice to some women,’” Warren said. “That just doesn’t cut it. The mayor has to stand on his record, and what we need to know is exactly what is lurking out there. He has gotten some number of women, dozens, who knows, to sign non-disclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace. So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those non-disclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?”
“We have very few non-disclosure agreements,” Bloomberg answered.
“How many is that?” Warren asked.
Fellow former frontrunner Joe Biden soon got in on the Bloomberg-kicking action. Video below via Politico:
One debate moment can cause a candidate to slip badly, and Mike Bloomberg’s refusal to release women from non-disclosure agreements struck with his company marked a low point for his nascent candidacy #DemDebate https://t.co/g0ZfjfgUtK pic.twitter.com/OY8f5LyIyb
— POLITICO (@politico) February 20, 2020
Before Bloomberg was out declaring Trump Wednesday night’s winner, Warren was already issuing her post-debate message to the billionaire.
“I hope that Bloomberg decides to live by what he says,” she told NBC News after the event. “He wants to see the Democrats beat Trump. That’s great. Drop out of the race.”
After the debate, Sen. @ewarren called on @MikeBloomberg to drop out of the race: "I hope that Bloomberg decides to live by what he says. He wants to see the Democrats beat Trump. That’s great. Drop out of the race. … Take your ego out of it." pic.twitter.com/4JCvruMSxx
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 20, 2020