Mike Bloomberg.—AFP
Mike Bloomberg.—AFP

WASHINGTON: Media mogul Michael Bloomberg won 15 congressional endorsements by Thursday afternoon, hours after he formally entered the 2020 US presidential race with a debate in Las Vegas.

A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist opinion poll showed that Bloomberg was already third among leading Democratic candidates. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the first, with 31 per cent support nationally. His second-place rival is Bloomberg with 19pc support. Former Vice President Joe Biden is third with 15pc.

All six Democrats will participate in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday to win the delegates who will then choose the Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 with delegates from other states.

The US media noted that at the Wednesday night debate, Bloomberg faced “a fusillade of attacks generally reserved for front-runners”.

Bloomberg, a former New York, is a billionaire, like President Donald Trump, and other Democratic candidates begrudge the advantage his wealth gives him.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against — a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced’,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the six leading candidates. “No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Michael Bloomberg.”

Another candidate, Pete Buttigieg, called Bloomberg one of the “most polarising candidates on the stage” who “wants to buy this party out”.

Even President Trump, mentioned the debate at a rally in Phoenix, saying that Bloomberg was “stumbling, bumbling” and appeared “grossly incompetent.” The president, who too was an outsider in 2016, said: “Not so easy to do what I did.”

Bloomberg referenced to his managerial experience, saying: “this is a management job, and Donald Trump’s not a manager.”

Asked about Bloomberg’s significant contributions to causes supported by Democrats, Buttigieg said he believed Bloomberg should be using his wealth to benefit the Democratic Party, but that “should not include running for president … it’s not just about how much money you’ve got, it’s what you stand for.”

Bloomberg defended his wealth, saying he’s made significant donations to make the world a better place. “We’re not going to throw out capitalism, it’s called communism and it didn’t work, he said.

Biden referred to Bloomberg’s previous comments that redlining had led to the stock market collapse in 2008, saying that it was “the greed of Wall Street” that had led to the recession.

Bloomberg said that Biden had misconstrued his words on redlining. He also looked around at his opponents and said he was the only one on stage who had started a business.

Senator Warren said Bloomberg was not clear on the “MeToo” movement. “I hope you heard what his defence was: ‘I’ve been nice to some women.’ That just doesn’t cut it.”

Senator Warren and Biden pushed Bloomberg repeatedly to release the women who works in his companies from the agreements that prevent them from disclosing cases of sexual harassment.

Bloomberg said the agreements were “made consensually”.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2020