Las Vegas, Nevada – From the first minute, Democrats besieged New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg and questioned Bernie Sanders about his inflexible progressive strategy, in a combative debate Wednesday night that threatened to further blur the urgent search for a candidate Democrat to face the president of the United States, Donald Trump, in this year’s elections.
Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and who was a Republican, had a rugged debut in the primary debates, forced to defend his actions and past statements about race, gender, as well as his personal wealth. Sanders, meanwhile, tried to answer aggressive questions about his defense of democratic socialism and his health, after suffering a heart attack last year.
The ninth debate of the primaries included the most aggressive segments in a year of democratic process to designate a candidate for the presidency. The tension reflected the growing anxiety among candidates and party leaders about the possibility of ending a candidate who failed to gather broad support in November to defeat Trump.RELATED
The campaign is about to go up. Nevada votes on Saturday, followed by South Carolina on February 29. In less than two weeks they vote more than a dozen states in the Super Tuesday, when it is decided approximately one third of the necessary delegates to obtain the candidacy.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren struggled for the survival of her campaign, and stood out with repeated attacks on Bloomberg. Warren tried to weaken him before the Democratic base, uncomfortable with his vast fortune, his offensive comments about police strategy towards minorities and his condescending comments about women, including those who worked at his company.
Warren described Bloomberg as “a billionaire who calls people fat mares and horse-faced lesbians.” And the congresswoman was not the only one.
Sanders lashed out at Bloomberg’s police initiatives as mayor of New York, which he said were directed against “African-Americans and Latinos in a scandalous way.”
And former Vice President Joe Biden criticized that Bloomberg’s “arrest and search” policy ended up “throwing 5 million black men against the wall.”
From a distance, Trump joined the attacks against Bloomberg.
“I hear you are beating you tonight, you know it’s in a debate,” Trump said at a rally in Phoenix.
On a night that threatened to blur the brightness of a carefully constructed image with television commercials, Bloomberg failed to defend himself against attacks related to race and gender. But he was firm and not ashamed of his fortune and how he used it to make important changes for the Democrats. He focused especially on Sanders and the fact that he describes himself as a Socialist Democrat.
“I don’t think the senator has any chance of defeating Donald Trump,” Bloomberg said, noting Sanders’ grow ing fortune. “The best known socialist in the country turns out to be a millionaire with three houses!”
Sanders defended his property by stating that he has one in Washington, where he lives, and two in Vermont, the state he represents in the Senate.
Although Bloomberg was the preferred target on Wednesday, the debate was also an important test for Sanders, who is becoming a favorite in the primaries, whether the party apparatus likes it or not. A growing group of donors, elected officials and political strategists fear that Sanders’ inflexible progressive policy may be a disaster in a general election against Trump, but they have failed to agree on a single moderate candidate.
PeteButtigieg, former mayor of South Indiana, attacked Bloomberg and Sanders, warning that one threatened to “set fire” to the Democratic Party and the other tried to buy it.
He described the two candidates as “the two most divisive people in this scenario,” with little chance of defeating Trump or helping Democratic candidates fighting for seats in Congress.
Bloomberg and Sanders were the most attacked, but the other four candidates on stage were not played less.
Biden, a former vice president for two terms and who was the favorite of the traditional party current, desperately tried to breathe new life into his reluctant campaign, which began the night at the bottom of the moderates group, behind Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar And after a bad result last week in New Hampshire, Warren was fighting to reactivate his campaign towards the White House.
A member of the Warren campaign said on Twitter that his combative first hour of debate had been his best fundraiser “to date”.
Sanders, the other best positioned progressive candidate, suffered attacks from Biden and Bloomberg for their democratic socialist convictions.
As he has done several times in the past year, Sanders defended the cost of his “Medicare for all” health plan, which would eliminate the private insurance industry in exchange for a government-funded health system that would cover all Americans. .
“When you ask Bernie how much it would cost, the last time he said ‘We’ll find out,'” Biden joked. “It costs more than 35 billion dollars, let’s be realistic.”
The hostility between Buttigieg and Klobuchar became apparent when the former Indiana mayor strongly criticized the Minnesota Senator, who has served three legislatures, for not being able to answer questions in a recent interview on Mexican politics and forgetting the name of the president of Mexico.
Buttigieg said his rival is on a committee that oversees trade issues in Mexico and “I can’t literally say a thing about the country’s politics.”
She replied: “Are you saying that I am silly? Are you making fun of me?”
Later, she attacked Buttigieg saying “I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete.”
The debate ended with a question about the possibility that Democrats remain divided throughout the primary campaign, with a final resolution in a disputed national convention in July.