Michael Bloomberg practically wrote ads for the Trump campaign with his attacks on Sen. Bernie Sanders during last night’s Democratic debate.
The consensus from people from across the political spectrum is that Michael Bloomberg bombed in last night’s debate. The other candidates hit him with attacks on his immense wealth, past policies, and behavior almost from the word “go.”
It was surprising that he was even still standing at the end of it.
But though he left the debate in much worse shape than he was in when it started, his campaign is not over by a long shot. As Professor Jacobson noted, Bloomberg is not on any ballots until Super Tuesday, which is on March 3rd. He has plenty of time for his debate woes to fade out of the spotlight and other candidates to implode in Nevada and/or South Carolina.
In the meantime, the few solid blows Michael Bloomberg landed against frontrunner Bernie Sanders during the Democratic debate were practically tailor-made for the Trump campaign to use in future ads against Sanders.
Here are three of them:
1) After Sanders bemoaned the so-called “grotesque level of income and wealth inequality,” he claims exists in America and said in so many words that billionaires like Bloomberg should be more on board with sharing more of their wealth, Bloomberg hit back hard.
Bloomberg told the moderators he would “absolutely not” support what Sanders was proposing. “I can’t think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get reelected than listening to this conversation. This is ridiculous. We’re not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism, and it just didn’t work.” As Bloomberg said that, both Sanders and Sen. Warren audibly groaned and raised their hands to respond.
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) February 20, 2020
Sanders later asserted that it was a “cheap shot” for Bloomberg to use the word “communism” to refer to socialism.
2) Moderator Lester Holt asked Sanders about a recent NBC poll where two-thirds of voters said they were “uncomfortable with socialist candidate for president.” Sanders defended his belief in socialism in the full minute and a half. He spouting off his usual pablum about how the system’s structure benefits the wealthy and not the working man:
SANDERS: But here is the point. Let’s talk about democratic socialism. Not communism, Mr. Bloomberg. That’s a cheap shot. Let’s talk about — let’s talk about what goes on in countries like Denmark, where Pete correctly pointed out they have a much higher quality of life in many respects than we do. What are we talking about? We are living in many ways in a socialist society right now. The problem is, as Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us, we have socialism for the very rich, rugged individualism for the poor.
BLOOMBERG: Wait a second.
SANDERS: When Donald — let me finish. When Donald Trump gets $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury condominiums, that’s socialism for the rich.
BLOOMBERG: Wait a second.
SANDERS: When Walmart — we have to subsidize Walmart’s workers who are on Medicaid and food stamps because the wealthiest family in America pays starvation wages, that’s socialism for the rich. I believe in democratic socialism for working people, not billionaires, health care for all, educational opportunities for all.
HOLT: All right, Senator, Senator, thank you.
SANDERS: Creating a government that works for all, not just for Mr. Bloomberg.
Bloomberg blasted back by pointing out that Sanders had done exceptionally well for himself in the very American capitalistic society he denounces:
HOLT: The question was about socialism.
BLOOMBERG: What a wonderful country we have. The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?
SANDERS: Well, you’ll miss that I work in Washington, house one.
BLOOMBERG: That’s the first problem.
SANDERS: Live in Burlington, house two.
BLOOMBERG: That’s good.
SANDERS: And like thousands of other Vermonters, I do have a summer camp. Forgive me for that. Where is your home? Which tax haven do you have your home?
BLOOMBERG: New York City, thank you very much, and I pay all my taxes. And I’m happy to do it because I get something for it.
3) When asked if he felt Sanders could beat President Trump, Bloomberg hit him on his Medicare for All plan:
BLOOMBERG: I don’t think there’s any chance of the senator beating President Trump. You don’t start out by saying I’ve got 160 million people I’m going to take away the insurance plan that they love. That’s just not a way that you go and start building the coalition that the Sanders camp thinks that they can do. I don’t think there’s any chance whatsoever. And if he goes and is the candidate, we will have Donald Trump for another four years. And we can’t stand that.
Using video clips of candidates sparring with each other during primary debates is not uncommon for either party to do. One more notable example of this happening was in 2008 when John McCain’s campaign used footage of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden standing by his statement that he didn’t believe Barack Obama had enough experience to be president.
McCain used that in a general election ad after Obama picked Biden to be his VP, but don’t be surprised if you see Trump use Bloomberg’s words against Sanders well before the Democratic National Convention gets underway in July, for a couple of reasons.
The first one being that they have the potential to damage Sanders in advance of the general election campaign season should he become the nominee. Second, the ads would have the potential to deepen the divisions within the Democratic party as to whether or not Sanders should lead them in the fall, which could more considerably increase the chances of a bitterly divisive brokered convention.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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