Bloomberg is primary target at Democratic debate
Former NYC mayor attacked on transparency and wealth
The Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for president came to the stage of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel fighting from the start of Wednesday’s debate with billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg taking the brunt of the hits on everything from his wealth to questions about how he ran his business.
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said. “No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
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Warren called on Bloomberg to release women from nondisclosure agreements, apparently referring to a recent Washington Post article that detailed allegations made by a former saleswoman at Bloomberg’s company. Several lawsuits have alleged that women were discriminated against while working at his company, according to the report.
Bloomberg tried to downplay the issue, saying none of them accused him of anything “except maybe they didn’t like a joke I told.” But then he implied there could be other nondisclosure agreements and said he wouldn’t end them because “they decided when they signed the agreement that they wanted to keep it quiet.”
“I’ve said we’re not going to end these agreements because they were made consensually and they have every right to expect that they should stay private,” Bloomberg said.
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Warren pressed Bloomberg about how many nondisclosure agreements he’s had people sign.
“We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has who-knows-how-many NDAs,” she said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also weighed in. “All the mayor has to do,” Biden said, is tell them, 'You are released from the nondisclosure agreement'."
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The wealth of the former mayor was also a frequent talking point, particularly with Vermont's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders. "We have a grotesque and immoral distribution of wealth and income.,” said Sanders. “Mike Bloomberg owns more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans. That’s wrong. That’s immoral.”
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Bloomberg responded matter-of-factly, "I worked very hard for it and I’m giving it away.”
Last year Bloomberg reportedly made $3.3 billion in philanthropic donations.
But Sanders was quick to remind him he was not alone. “You know what, Mr. Bloomberg, it wasn’t you who made all that money, maybe it was your workers who should share some of the benefits as well,” Sanders said.
Debate presenter NBC News "tracked" the number of attacks on each candidate and Bloomberg was far and away hit the most times with 45 -- twice as much as any of the other candidates. Even Trump took a shot at Bloomberg during his campaign rally in Phoenix, saying he “heard he’s getting pounded tonight.”