Las Vegas, Feb 20 (IANS) Multi-billionaire media mogul and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his Democrat presidential primary debate debut and quickly became an easy target for other candidates.
The ninth debate took place on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada, which will hold a primary contest Saturday following those in Iowa and New Hampshire in recent weeks, which have left former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders neck-and-neck, reports Efe news.
Bloomberg qualified for his first presidential debate by registering more than 10 per cent in the qualifying polls after spending around $370 million on advertising.
“Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women, and of supporting racist polls like redlining and stop and frisk,” said Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, opening the attack against the media mogul.
Warren emphasized the allegations of harassment and sexism against Bloomberg and urged him to “release” the women, with whom he has signed non-disclosure agreements, so they could talk freely about their experiences.
“We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has who-knows how many nondisclosure agreements,” she warned.
Bloomberg, for his part, declined to reveal how many such agreements exist and said the cases will remain secret.
“They decided when they made an agreement they wanted to keep it quiet for everybody’s interests,” he added.
The former New York Mayor also downplayed the allegations that led to the agreements saying, “none of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told”.
Sanders criticized Bloomberg for his recent Republican past and support of former President George W. Bush (2001-2009) and for now using his fortune to try to “buy” the Democratic candidacy.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar slammed the multi-billionaire for not making his tax returns public and compared him to the incumbent President Donald Trump, in that respect.
“I think we need something different than Donald Trump. I don’t think you look at Donald Trump and say we need someone richer in the White House,” she said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, for his part, rebuked Bloomberg for his racist police policies as New York Mayor and for his opposition of Obamacare, former President Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation that covered millions of Americans.
Sanders also drew fire for his social democratic proposals such as establishing a universal healthcare system as well as for not making his medical reports public after his October heart attack.
The Democrat candidates will debate again on February 25 in South Carolina, the fourth state to hold primaries on February 29.