Tensions between the campaigns of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont rose Monday after Bloomberg’s campaign accused Sanders loyalists of vandalizing a campaign office in Chicago.
The accusation came as Bloomberg was preparing to use Tuesday’s debate and a massive media buy to torpedo his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Early Monday, police were called to a Bloomberg campaign office in Chicago where the terms “racist,” “sexist,” “GOP” and “oligarch” were scrawled on four windows, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“This act of vandalism against our Chicago office mirrors those we’ve seen in recent weeks in states across the country,” Bloomberg spokeswoman Galia Slayen wrote in a statement.
And on the strength of the use of the word “oligarch,” the Bloomberg campaign pointed an accusing finger at Sanders.
“While we do not know who is directly responsible, we do know Senator Bernie Sanders and his campaign have repeatedly invoked this language, and the word ‘oligarch’ specifically when discussing Mike Bloomberg and his campaign,” Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement, according to the campaign’s website.
“Sen. Sanders’ refusal to denounce these illegal acts is a sign of his inability to lead, and his willingness to condone and promote Trump-like rhetoric has no place in our politics. Fortunately, no one has been injured. But this needs to end before someone gets hurt,” he said.
“No one should have to live in fear of coming to work, and Sen. Sanders must call on his supporters — including his campaign staff — to elevate the discourse in this campaign and end their spread of hateful rhetoric.”
The accusation is not the first at the Sanders campaign. Nevada’s Culinary Union Local 226 claimed its members received threatening phone calls and social media messages from Sanders supporters after the union came out against any form of a Medicare for All plan, according to Fox News.
Media reports Monday said Bloomberg is also taking the offensive against Sanders.
Fox News reported that the Bloomberg campaign will “employ opposition research, surrogates, and advertisements across multiple platforms” in an effort to derail Sanders, who is currently leading Democrats in convention delegates.
One example was a gun control salvo that blazed across Twitter.
The NRA paved the road to Washington for Bernie Sanders.
He spent the next three decades making sure they got a return on their investment.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 24, 2020
Bloomberg also plans to come out swinging in Tuesday’s Democratic debate — less to forestall Sanders in South Carolina than to hurt the Vermont senator in the Super Tuesday primaries next week.
NBC News quoted what it said was a top Bloomberg campaign official as saying the debate “is definitely going to be about Bernie Sanders.”
“It’s everyone’s last opportunity to really hold him accountable and really challenge his record,” the aide reportedly said.
“And so we have to take on the front-runner on that stage. And that’s Bernie.”
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