Watch Live: Bernie Battles “Billionaire” Bloomberg In Critical Las Vegas Debate

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Watch Live: Bernie Battles “Billionaire” Bloomberg In Critical Las Vegas Debate

Americans will get a glimpse of the great ‘revolutionary class war’ over the soul of the Democratic Party Wednesday night as Democratic Primary frontrunner Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” who once proposed that no American be allowed to earn more than $1 million per year, faces off against latecomer Mike Bloomberg.

Bloomberg has shot up in the polls in recent weeks after leveraging his $62.8 billion fortune to build a massive campaign operation and finance a deluge of ad buys. The former NYC mayors participation in tonight’s debate is controversial: He only qualified yesterday, and his name isn’t even on the ballot in Nevada.

After skipping the first four contests, Bloomberg won’t officially enter the running until March 3 – better known as “Super Tuesday” – where it looks like he has a strong shot at winning several delegate-heavy states.

Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement Tuesday that the candidate is “looking forward to joining the other Democratic candidates on stage and making the case for why he’s the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and unite the country. The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process.”

Polls aren’t the only arena where Bloomberg has recently clocked a major advance: Ahead of the debate, online betting markets also placed Bloomberg in second to Sanders via the odds.

But, as Bernie has soared into the bookies’ odds lead, so the odds of a Trump win has surged…

Courtesy of PredictIt

If Bloomberg performs well tonight, parrying Sanders’ ad hominem attacks and slanders about billionaires, perhaps he’ll win over the rest of the doubters from his fellow moderates, and solidify his position as one true alternative to Sanders, especially as the Biden campaign implodes, Warren drops behind Klobuchar (with neither garnering much support) and Pete Buttigieg still can’t seem to convince much of the public that he’d be a trustworthy keeper of the nuclear codes.

Here is what The Hill sees as the five key things to watch for tonight…

How will Bloomberg combat attacks? 

Bloomberg will walk onto Wednesday night’s debate stage with a target on his back as a result of his ascendance in the polls.  The forum will give voters a new view of Bloomberg, who has not yet been on a debate stage this cycle and has given only a few sit-down interviews since announcing his candidacy. The self-funded candidate is set to make the stage in Nevada after the Democratic National Committee dropped a previous donor threshold.  The biggest attacks Bloomberg has received from the Democratic field this cycle have been from Sanders. The senator has repeatedly accused Bloomberg of looking to buy his way into the Democratic nomination after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ads.  The war of words escalated further on Monday when Bloomberg accused Sanders of not doing enough to call out the behavior and rhetoric of a segment of his supporters.  Biden and Klobuchar have both also signaled their eagerness to hit Bloomberg on the debate stage, including over comments the former New York City mayor made about stop-and-frisk policing and housing policy for low-income buyers. “I am also an advocate for him coming on the debate stage. I know that I’m not going to be able to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage,” Klobuchar said. 

How will Sanders fend off attacks on ‘Medicare for All’? 

Sanders’s Medicare for All proposal, a hallmark of his campaign, came under fire in Nevada last week after the state’s powerful Culinary Union warned that the plan would “end culinary health care” by replacing private plans with government-run insurance. Klobuchar, Buttigieg and Biden have all questioned how Sanders would pay for his Medicare for All plan. Warren faced similar questions earlier in the race.  The recent developments regarding the Culinary Union, which ended up not endorsing a candidate, have put a newfound scrutiny on Sanders’s proposed plan.  “It is striking that there’s been no explanation of how this is supposed to work when it could be one of the biggest things done to the American economy in a generation,” Buttigieg said, referring to Sanders’s plan, in January.  Sanders has argued that health care costs will be more expensive over the next decade without a Medicare for All system. Sanders also came under pressure after the Culinary Union denounced the candidate’s supporters for “viciously” attacking union members online. Sanders urged supporters of all campaigns to stop online attacks, saying “harassment of all forms is unacceptable to me.”

Can Biden and Warren have their debate moment? 

Biden and Warren were both seen as front-runners earlier in the race but have both seen a decline in support in the polls after less-than-stellar performances in Iowa and New Hampshire.  Critics say Biden’s debate performances have been weak, which could be an impediment to him on Wednesday as he looks to revamp his campaign. Biden is banking on the support of Latinos and African Americans in Nevada and could use Wednesday’s debate stage as an opportunity to tout his ties with those communities across the country.  Warren, who has had a number of strong debate performances, will also be looking for a breakout moment as she looks to hit the reset button on her campaign. The senator will likely be looking to reclaim her spot as the race’s top progressive from Sanders, while also looking for opportunities to hit Bloomberg.  Klobuchar showed this month that strong debate performances matter after a good showing by the Minnesota senator ahead of the New Hampshire primary was widely seen as having contributed to her better-than-expected third-place finish in the Granite State.

How will Buttigieg, Klobuchar pitch to a more diverse electorate? 

Buttigieg and Klobuchar have emerged from contests in Iowa and New Hampshire with momentum, but they will be addressing a vastly different audience in Nevada.  The two Midwesterners have struggled throughout the campaign to appeal to voters of color, which threatens to hurt them in Nevada. The two have also not spent as much time in Nevada compared to Iowa and New Hampshire, so Wednesday could be critical in terms of making their case to voters.  Buttigieg and Klobuchar will likely have to answer questions about their past careers as a mayor and prosecutor, respectively, and how they affected minority communities in their roles.  Buttigieg has come under scrutiny for his handling of the aftermath of a police-involved shooting of a black man, as well as questions about the disproportionate arrests of black people for marijuana possession during his mayoral tenure and the firing of a black police chief. Klobuchar has come under fire for prosecuting a black teenager who was found guilty of murder in 2002 despite a number of flaws in the case uncovered by an Associated Press story. The senator has called for all evidence in the case to be reviewed.

Which candidates besides Bloomberg are most likely to clash or take fire? 

Aside from Bloomberg, there are a number of other candidate clashes that could take place on Wednesday night. Buttigieg and Sanders have gone head-to-head over their differences in policies, often showcasing the division between moderates and progressives within the party. Biden also attacked Buttigieg over his experience as the former mayor narrowly won more delegates in the Iowa caucuses, effectively replacing Biden as the standard-bearer for the moderate wing of the party. Klobuchar could see dividends in attacking Sanders, billing herself as the more pragmatic candidate. However, she could also look to go after the moderates on stage in an effort to break further out of the crowded centrist lane. Warren, whose attacks on Sanders have fallen flat in the past, could also set her sights on the moderates in the race in an effort to contrast her more progressive ideas. 

Reportedly, according to campaign officials, Bloomberg will not be standing on a box for the duration of the debate.

Watch the debate live below. It begins at 9 pm ET:

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 – 20:45

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