Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s fast rise in the polls has made him a target for other Democratic presidential nominees who are irked that Bloomberg’s big-spending ways have allowed him to be on stage for Wednesday’s presidential debate.
Bloomberg qualified for the debate in Nevada on the strength of an NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll that showed him in second place at 19 percent support, behind front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had 31 percent support. In December, a similar poll showed Bloomberg at 4 percent support.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose support in the poll slid from 17 percent to 12 percent since December, lashed out at Bloomberg on Twitter.
“It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate,” she tweeted. “But at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire.”
It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate. But at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire. https://t.co/H02radEZcv
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 18, 2020
Prior to this debate, the Democratic National Committee had set a requirement that candidates have a certain number of donors.
That rule was waived for Wednesday’s debate, paving the way for Bloomberg, who is self-funding his campaign, to appear.
Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who has pushed back against the DNC rules throughout her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, called that unfair.
“The fact that a billionaire can come in and have that kind of influence to change rules of the DNC — all of a sudden, not coincidentally, to be able to benefit Michael Bloomberg — while voters here in New Hampshire and across the country are saying, ‘Hey, we want to be able to make the best-informed decision possible before we go in and cast our vote’ understanding the seriousness of this election, but they are not able to do so, so long as both the DNC and some of the corporate media partners are enacting these rules where they are playing favorites,” Gabbar said Saturday on Fox News.
“They are picking winners and losers before voters have the opportunity to do so.”
Bloomberg’s rise, and his methods, have provoked fierce commentary on Twitter.
Bloomberg can run his campaign like a star destroyer coming out of light speed above the debate stage, but this is two years ago and unlike other candidates, Bloomberg hasn’t spent two years becoming a better candidate by grinding it out on the ground, and money can’t fix that. https://t.co/2QUQvIDXj5
— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) February 18, 2020
Amy Klobuchar was asked if Mike Bloomberg should be on the debate stage in Las Vegas on Feb. 19.
“Yeah, I think he should be on the debate stage, because I can’t beat him on the airwaves,” she told reporters in Nevada. “But I can beat him on the debate stage.”
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) February 14, 2020
The choice is certainly getting stark… And Bloomberg’s rise to 19% is *all* money – no debates, no campaigning, just the same techniques that built name recognition behind McDonald’s and Tide. If this isn’t what you want for your democracy, time to join #NotMeUs and fight. https://t.co/5NV5ygR9zT
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) February 18, 2020
Sanders attacked Bloomberg at a Washington state rally on Monday.
“We have a corrupt political system which enables billionaires to buy elections,” he said, according to The Guardian.
“So today we say to those billionaires who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to support candidates who represent the rich and the powerful; today we say to Mayor Bloomberg: We are a democracy, not an oligarchy.”
Bloomberg’s election strategy has been to pour millions into advertising to raise his profile.
In an NBC News interview, Sanders said that’s just plain wrong.
“This is what I think, you know, Mike Bloomberg and anybody else has every right in the world to run for president of the United States. But I got a real problem with multibillionaires literally buying elections,” Sanders said earlier this month.
“And his view is, ‘Hey, I’m worth $60 billion, I can spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on TV ads; hey, vote for me, make me president,'” Sanders said. “That is exactly the problem with American politics.”
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