Up until Wednesday night’s debate, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has let his money do the talking—gobs upon gobs of it, to the tune of $300 million in ad buys. He hasn’t faced the scrutiny of a press corps, he hasn’t done selfie lines or attended fish fries, he hasn’t faced incoming from debate rivals trying to blunt his rise in the polls, he hasn’t been on any ballots, and god knows he hasn’t stooped to ask voters for a single dollar. In short, he’s been floating over the entire race as a mythology waiting to eventually touch down, walk among the mortals, and save Democrats and indeed America from that other New York maniac, who’s torching the republic.
Sure, Bloomberg’s had some snags since announcing his run, including reporting on 40 sexual harassment suits brought by 64 women, his praise of racial profiling black men as recently as 2015, him blaming homeowners of color for the 2008 financial crisis, his disparaging of transgender individuals, and his advocacy for slashing Social Security and Medicaid coupled with his disdain for the Affordable Care Act. Luckily for him, his own news outlet, Bloomberg News, declared the Democratic primary a “two-man race” for the nomination with Sen. Bernie Sanders. How convenient.
But now we’re going to see whether Bloomberg can really “get it done,” as his campaign slogan asserts. Sanders seems pretty fine with the premature winnowing of the field, as he pounds away at Bloomberg on the stump. “Mr. Bloomberg, like anyone else has a right to run for president. He does not have a right to buy the presidency!” Sanders told supporters at a rally in Richmond, California.
But there’s several other candidates in the primary who likely feel reports of their demise has been greatly exaggerated, namely former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Warren, in particular, has been champing at the bit for an opportunity to take on Bloomberg. On Tuesday, she called it a “shame” that Bloomberg bought his way into the debate. But at least, she added, Democratic voters would “get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire.” She’s also said Bloomberg should release his sexual harassment accusers from their nondisclosure agreements so they have an opportunity to speak out.
But Bloomberg isn’t the only candidate Warren and others will have to contend with. As Sanders has nudged up past 30% support in some national polls, his rivals will likely focus some of their energy on him.