Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders continued to hold billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg in the crosshairs during Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate, Bloomberg's second of the campaign.
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“I don’t care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has,” Warren said. “The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him. He has not earned their trust. I will. And the fact that he cannot earn the trust of the core of the Democratic Party means he is the riskiest candidate standing on this stage.”
In the final debate before the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday, Warren reiterated her criticism of Bloomberg -- who is not on the ballot in South Carolina -- for using non-disclosure agreements in settlements with employees at his business, Bloomberg Inc. Warren pointed to one particular case reported by The Washington Post last week, a former saleswoman who sued Bloomberg and his company alleging that Bloomberg told her to “kill it” after learning she was pregnant.
“Sign a blanket release and let those women speak out,” Warren said.
Bloomberg defended himself, saying he “never said it,” and in any cases where he said anything that bothered employees, he was “probably wrong to make the jokes.”
“The trouble is, with this senator enough is never enough,” Bloomberg said. “We cannot continue to re-litigate this every time.”
Bloomberg said his company had only found three cases of employees being made uncomfortable by his comments in 40 years, but he did release them from the NDAs and promised to never use NDAs ever again.
“We probably changed, hopefully, the corporate landscape,” he said.
Warren also pointed to Bloomberg’s financial support for Republican politicians, including one who challenged her for her senate seat. Bloomberg said he also had donated to many Democrats’ campaigns, helping the party win control of the House.
“I bought — “ he stopped, correcting himself — “I got that.”
Sanders also launched into a criticism of Bloomberg at the top of the event, saying the economy is not “working for the American people.”
“The economy is doing really great for people like Mr. Bloomberg and other billionaires,” Sanders said.
Bloomberg later shot back at Sanders, referring to reports that the Russian government supported his campaign.
“Putin thinks Trump should be president of the United States,” Bloomberg said. “That’s why Russia is helping you get elected, so you lose to him … Bernie will lose to Donald Trump.”
Sanders replied by saying Putin wouldn’t be able to continue interfering in U.S. elections if he’s president. And he continued to criticize Bloomberg.
“Mayor Bloomberg has a strong and enthusiastic base of support,” he said. “The problem is they’re all billionaires.”
Bloomberg joked that he was “surprised that all of my fellow contestants up here … showed up” after his performance at the previous debate. The former New York mayor's outing in Nevada was
Still, he turned serious and pointed criticism of President Trump over the coronavirus for previously diverting funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and firing pandemic response experts in 2018.
“This is a very serious thing,” he said. “As you see, the stock market’s falling apart because people are very worried, and they should be.”
Bloomberg leaned on his health record from his time as mayor of New York City, saying the life expectancy in the city grew three years over the national average during his time in office thanks to his bans on trans fats and smoking in public places.
“It has saved an enormous number of lives,” he said. “It just goes to show if you have good public health, you can do things.”
But Bloomberg noted that American is not all New York City.
“I think what’s right for New York City isn’t necessarily right for every city, otherwise you’d have a naked cowboy in every city,” he said, referring to the Times Square "character" clad in only his underwear, a cowboy hat and a guitar.
Bloomberg's campaign released a statement midway through the debate, saying he "is the candidate who is focused on what actually matters to Democratic voters: defeating Donald Trump."