Biden, Klobuchar hit Bloomberg's record ahead of Nevada debate

Ben Kamisar

LAS VEGAS — Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota took aim Sunday at former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg ahead of this week's Democratic presidential debate.

Bloomberg hasn't yet qualified for Wednesday's NBC News and MSNBC debate in Las Vegas, but he has through Tuesday to meet the party's criteria.

With that potential clash looming, both Biden and Klobuchar criticized Bloomberg in interviews on "Meet the Press" at a time when the former mayor faces increased scrutiny over past comments about race, policing and women at his eponymous company.

"Sixty billion dollars can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can't erase your record. There's a lot to talk about with Michael Bloomberg," Biden said, approximating Bloomberg's net worth.

"You take a look at the 'stop-and-frisk' proposals. You take a look at his ideas on redlining he's talking about. You take a look at what he's done relative to the African American community. I'm anxious to debate Michael on the issues relating to, you know, what we're going to face in Super Tuesday."

"It's going to be awful hard to go out and win those — the base support of the Democratic Party, the African Americans, Latinos and working-class white folks — and put that coalition together. That's how you win an election. You put that coalition together," he added.

Bloomberg has spent $308 million on television and radio ads alone this cycle, more than every other Democratic presidential candidate combined, according to data from the ad tracking company Advertising Analytics. He's risen in national polls in recent weeks, particularly as Biden's standing has taken a hit.

But Bloomberg's record has also come under increased scrutiny.

The former mayor apologized days before he announced his presidential bid for how the New York Police Department used its controversial stop-and-frisk policy during his tenure in office, admitting that the disproportionate stops of black and Latino New Yorkers led to an "erosion of trust" that he's trying to earn back.

And in recent days, he's had to confront newly unearthed comments from his past defense of the policy, including comments in a 2015 speech in which, in video not verified by NBC News, Bloomberg appears to say that while people complain that "we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods ... that's where all the crime is."

In the same speech, he also said "the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them."

Bloomberg's campaign has responded to reports of the comments by reiterating his apology for the effects of stop-and-frisk and attacking President Donald Trump for seizing on the reports.

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Amid the controversies, Klobuchar said on "Meet the Press" that she does not "think he is the best person to lead the ticket" for Democrats. And she said she's both looking forward to debating Bloomberg if he is able to qualify for Wednesday's presidential debate and wants to see Bloomberg answer tough questions from the media.

"He just can't hide behind the airwaves. He has to answer questions" she said.

"I think he should be on that debate stage, which eventually he will be, because I can't beat him on the airways, but I can beat him on the debate stage, and I think people of America deserve that to make a decision."

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