KEY POINTS

  • Everyone ganged-up on Mike Bloomberg, who didn't have enough debate experience to come out of this free-for-all unscathed
  • Warren led the attack on Bloomberg, calling him an "arrogant billionaire"
  • Bloomberg says he's “embarrassed” by how stop-and-frisk turned out 

Mike Bloomberg's first debate alongside five of his tough rivals for the Democratic Party's presidential candidacy didn't go as smoothly as his slick campaign ads.

You could even say Mayor Mike took a beating from his more politically savvy rivals. That's because all five of them ganged-up on him and he looked pretty banged-up at the end probably because he doesn't have much experience debating at this high level.

The consensus is Sen. Bernie Sanders, Bloomberg's most outspoken critic in this presidential group, seems to have won the primary debate in Las Vegas held ahead of the Nevada caucus on February 22 by not looking too beat-up despite the hammering he took. Sanders successfully fended-off questions about his health (he's 78, after all) and came off looking unblemished despite criticisms of his pet Medicare-for-all promise.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA can also be said to have won the night due to her savage and unrelenting assault on Bloomberg's alleged sexist behavior and for not being on the receiving end of too many hard questions.

As was expected, Bloomberg was hit hardest where it hurt him the most: his history of sexist treatment of women and, of course, his alleged racist stop-and-frisk policy as mayor of New York City. Warren wasted no time in blasting Bloomberg. She also compared Bloomberg to Trump, branding him an "arrogant billionaire."

After welcoming Bloomberg to the stage, Warren immediately proceeded to slam the former New York City mayor for his many alleged sins against women and minorities.

“I'd like to talk about who we're running against: A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump. I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg,” said Warren to start the wrecking ball swinging.

“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 policies like redlining and stop and frisk,” she declared. “Look, I'll support whoever the Democratic nominee is, but understand this: Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”

Bloomberg defended himself for refusing to release women from non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) struck with his company.

“I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior the #MeToo movement has exposed," said Bloomberg. "Anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it's appropriate, they're gone that day."

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Denver on February 16 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Denver on February 16 Photo: AFP / Jason Connolly

Bloomberg brought attention to the fact his company was rated the second-best place in America to work today. He said he was “embarrassed” by how stop-and-frisk turned out, but claims he inherited it from his predecessor. “What happened, however, was it got out of control,” according to Bloomberg.

“If we took off everybody that was wrong off this panel, everybody that was wrong on criminal justice at some time in their careers, there’d be nobody else up here,” he said.

The only other woman on stage, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, then took her turn at savaging Bloomberg. She criticized the Bloomberg campaign for arrogantly saying three moderate Democrats should just step out of the way to help Bloomberg win the nomination and defeat Trump.

“I think we need something different than Donald Trump,” she said. “I don't think you look at Donald Trump and say, 'We need somebody richer in the White House.'”

Former vice president Joe Biden then took a swing at Bloomberg. He first reminded one and all a new NBC poll shows him leading Trump by the widest margin among anyone in the Democratic field.

“The mayor says that he has a great record," noted Biden. "The fact of the matter is, he has not managed his city very -- very well when he was there. He didn't get a lot done,” Biden said. “He has stop and frisk, throwing close to five million young black men up against a wall.”

Then, it was Sanders' turn to get a good roasting. Sanders has come under fire for incendiary statements made by people in his campaign. Recently, Sanders' supporters put together a new digital video featuring aggressive and derogatory tweets, memes and videos insulting Sanders' rivals. Some of these hurtful statements, including those from the "Bernie Bros," are outright harassment and bullying, contend Sanders' rivals.

“I've said many times before, we are all responsible for our supporters and we need to step up,” said Warren. “That's what leadership is all about.”

View of the Paris Las Vegas hotel which is the venue for Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate View of the Paris Las Vegas hotel which is the venue for Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate Photo: AFP / Mark RALSTON

Sanders responded to Warren by saying of the millions of his Twitter followers, “99.9 percent of them are decent human beings, are working people, are people who believe in justice, compassion and love. And if there are a few people who make ugly remarks, who attack trade union leaders, I disown those people.”

He then said some of his campaign’s female and African American staffers were also being harrassed. Pete Buttigieg took his turn at Sanders, saying he didn't believe Sanders was directing the online activity.

“I think you have to accept some responsibility and ask yourself what it is about your campaign, in particular, that seems to be motivating this behavior more than others,” said former mayor Buttigieg, who also said it didn’t seem Sanders has a direct hand in all of this.

As expected, Sanders was hit for his advocacy of democratic socialism and he hit back hard.

“Let's talk about democratic socialism," he said. "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.”

He said when Trump "gets $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury condominiums, that's socialism for the rich. We have to subsidize Walmart’s workers 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 opportunity for all."