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“The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses," Bloomberg said at Wednesday's debate, in a jab at Sanders

By Sean Neumann
February 20, 2020 05:54 PM
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As candidates lobbed criticism after criticism at Mike Bloomberg during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas, the billionaire former New York City mayor warned Sen. Bernie Sanders not to throw stones from his own glass house — or, in Bloomberg’s words, all three of them.

While answering a question about socialism, Sanders, a democratic socialist and longtime independent from Vermont, said he was running for the presidency behind the hope of “creating a government that works for all, not just for Mr. Bloomberg.”

But Bloomberg, who is the 12th richest man in the world and has already reportedly spent more than $337 million on campaign ads, pushed back, noting Sanders is worth about $2 million himself.

“The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?” said Bloomberg, 78.

Sanders, also 78, had his own retort ready.

“Well, you’ll miss that I work in Washington, house one. [I] live in Burlington, house two,” Sanders said, as Bloomberg quipped in the background. “And, like thousands of other Vermonters, I do have a summer camp. Forgive me for that. Where is your home? Which tax haven do you have your home?”

Elsewhere in the debate, Bloomberg took issue with Sanders sweeping policy proposals, including universal, government-funded health care and tuition-free college.

“Communism,” Bloomberg called it — which Sanders said was a “cheap shot,” instead comparing his platform to the programs in countries like Denmark.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (R) gestures as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg listen during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Paris Las Vegas on February 19, 2020 in Las Vegas
From left: Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders during Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas
| Credit: Mario Tama/Getty

Bloomberg came into Wednesday night’s debate with a target on his back after outspending every candidate combined since he launched his 2020 presidential campaign in November, nearly a year after most other candidates began vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In an unusual tactic because he entered the race so late, Bloomberg chose to focus on the 14 states voting on “Super Tuesday” on March 3 — while the other candidate began racking up votes in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Bloomberg has already spent more than $124 million in ad buys in “Super Tuesday” states. Sanders, who along with former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg is currently leading the primary race, has spent less than $10 million on ads in the same states.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who went viral on social media for her own challenges to Bloomberg on the debate stage, also joined in on calling out his massive campaign spending thus far.

“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,” Warren said, “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.”

After the crowd applauded her response, the Massachusetts senator added: “This country has worked for the rich for a long time and left everyone else in the dirt. It is time to have a president who will be on the side of working families and be willing to get out there and fight for them.”

Democratic presidential hopefuls Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (L) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (R) speak during a break in the ninth Democratic primary debate
Mike Bloomberg (left) and Sen. Bernie Sanders
| Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty

Bloomberg has made “defeating Trump” his campaign’s biggest goal since announcing his bid to be on the Democratic ticket in November.

He continued to press that cause on Wednesday.

“I’m a philanthropist who didn’t inherit his money, but made his money, and I’m spending that money to get rid of Donald Trump, the worst president we have ever had,” he said. “And if I can get that done, it will be a great contribution to America and to my kids.”

But his rivals weren’t buying it.

“We’ve got to wake up as a party,” said Buttigieg. “We could wake up two weeks from today, the day after ‘Super Tuesday,’ and the only candidates left standing will be Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, the two most polarizing figures on this stage. And most Americans don’t see where they fit if they’ve got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power.”