Mike Bloomberg Could’ve Made a Better First Apparition

Mike Bloomberg at his Democratic debate debut on February 19 — AP Photo/Matt York

Held in Vegas, the last Democratic debate was crucial for all candidates, most especially for Mike Bloomberg, New York City mayor from 2002 to 2013. It was his first time to shine as a presidential candidate, while everyone was listening and watching. And overall, he didn’t make a lot of friends on stage.

Foremost, he didn’t seem prepared whatsoever for what was coming his way. Bloomberg was on the defensive, yes, but he also portrayed someone with a lack of vision.

The main contenders have something to propose. We know why they are throwing their hat in the ring. Bernie is a social democrat with a plan (realistic or not, depending on your ideology) that attracts a lot of Americans, mostly the younger generation and visible minorities. Same goes for the other candidates- they all have their place on the Democratic stage.

Mr. Bloomberg waited a while before making his intentions public. Bloomberg is arriving late in the party primaries, well after candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker or Andrew Yang suspended their bid for the presidency.

Iowa and New Hampshire have already voted.

He is the kind of person who arrives late at the party without bringing anything. We don’t really know why he is present, but someone did send him the invite.

We have seen many Bloomberg ads on TV in recent weeks and days. The mayor is worth about $60 billion (the 9th richest man on earth). No wonder it’s all about his commercials when you are watching your programs.

Wednesday evening was the first time he couldn’t hide behind the television, with a well-planned speech. He hasn’t yet engaged a ton with Americans across the country and the clock is ticking to do so.

Mike Bloomberg isn’t the greatest public speaker. A little bit like Joe Biden, he is often looking for his words. It doesn’t come as fluently as others like Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar.

During the debate, he was in troubled waters because of previous allegations of crude and disrespectful comments to women. He simply couldn’t offer a valuable and sincere answer. On that issue, some victims have signed nondisclosure agreements, and Bloomberg doesn’t seem as if he wants them to be made public in the near future.

It was Warren who seized the moment to hold him accountable. After only a few minutes, the Massachusetts senator delivered the remarks of the evening.

“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”, she said.

Bloomberg didn’t seem eager to come up with great answers that would’ve made him look like the victim in all of the cases.

The debate’s first hour was intense, unlike what we have seen before. On the other hand, the debate was less on policies and propositions. It was all about the ability to lead and personal attacks. Most talks were about accountability.

Candidates were asking Bloomberg to release his tax return as soon as possible. He is now saying that he will, but that the process is taking a little bit longer than expected.

Some asked Bernie to release his full medical records, on the basis that voters deserve to get his health situation full picture. Sanders argued that he had already released enough information, comparable to what the others have done.

Let’s not forget that Bernie suffered a heart attack in October, while on the campaign trail in Nevada.

Bloomberg even attacked Sanders’s hypocrisy, as a millionaire who happens to be a social democrat. “What a wonderful country we have, the best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses”, Bloomberg said.

You need those kinds of debates, but they cannot monopolize all of the attention.

No talks whatsoever on foreign policy, and the role of the U.S. and its allies on the world stage. No big discussions on China, Russia or the situation in the Middle East, partly because the moderators didn’t ask any related questions.

At least, climate change was part of the equation, with all candidates rallying behind the urgency of the situation, without agreeing on the best way to solve the climate crisis.

Other than Bloomberg and Warren, we witnessed a feud between Buttigieg and Klobuchar on her skills and political knowledge; about a recent interview she made, where she forgot the name of Mexico’s president.

With that said, throughout the evening, Bloomberg tried to make the point that he is the best option to defeat Trump in 2020.

Bloomberg’s team reinforces the idea that he is the only candidate on stage that can rally republicans to his cause. From his stand point, Sanders is just too extreme and will never stand a chance against the actual president.

Bernie Sanders still remains, from what the latest polls are showing us, the national front-runner. He felt short in 2016, but this will be his last chance. You know the expression: go big or go home.

Super Tuesday, when 14 States will vote simultaneously, is on March 3rd. We still have lots to talk about before then.

Graduated with a masters degree in politics from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Human rights, LGBT issues, sports and music. Twitter: @OlivierPilon

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