Sanders and Bloomberg exchange blows as Democratic race heats up

The gloves continue to come off in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, with Bernie Sanders accusing billionaire Mike Bloomberg of buying the election and attacking the former New York City mayor’s record on race, and Bloomberg taking a swipe at the Vermont senator and his fervent supporters.

On Sunday, Sanders launched his latest offensive against Bloomberg at a Democratic Party dinner in Las Vegas, where he denounced “stop and frisk” policing that disproportionately targeted African-Americans during Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor.

“Regardless of how much money a multibillionaire candidate is willing to spend on his election,” Sanders said, “we will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Donald Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for and enacted racist policies like stop-and-frisk, which caused communities of color in his city to live in fear.”

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (David J. Phillip/AP, Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images)
Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders. (David J. Phillip/AP, Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images)

Bloomberg, who has apologized for his past support of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics, responded in a tweet that included a video clip featuring alleged Sanders supporters — their names are blurred out — attacking other candidates’ fans on social media.

“We need to unite to defeat Trump in November,” Bloomberg tweeted. “This type of ‘energy’ is not going to get us there.”

Last week, Sanders was among several Democratic candidates to take aim at Bloomberg, who has staked his personal fortune on winning the White House, flooding the airwaves with ads that have helped him rise to double digits in some recent national polls.

“I don’t think people look at the guy in the White House and say, ‘Oh, I want someone richer,’” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said on ABC’s “The View.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren attacked Bloomberg over a 2008 assertion that ending redlining, a discriminatory housing practice, helped trigger the economic meltdown.

“A video just came out yesterday in which Michael Bloomberg is saying, in effect, that the 2008 financial crash was caused because the banks weren’t permitted to discriminate against black and brown people,” Warren said at a Thursday rally in Virginia. “That crisis would not have been averted if the banks had been able to be bigger racists. And anyone who thinks that should not be the leader of our party.”

Warren also took a swipe at Bloomberg’s late entry into the Democratic race.

“We’ve been going at this for about a year,” she said. “Some people got in a little later than others. Michael Bloomberg came in on the billionaire plan — just buy yourself the nomination.”

Bloomberg, whose campaign is self-funded and not accepting donations, is close to qualifying for next week’s debate after the Democratic National Committee announced new rules eschewing the minimum donor requirements that were in place for all of the previous contests. The new threshold is 10 percent or more support in at least four DNC-approved polls by Feb. 18. (Bloomberg has three.)

Asked on “CBS This Morning” whether Bloomberg should be allowed on the debate stage, Sanders said, “Of course not.”

“Some very good friends of mine who were competing in the Democratic nomination — people like Cory Booker ... Julián Castro — worked really, really hard,” Sanders said. “Nobody changed the rules to get them into the debate. But I guess if you’re worth $60 billion you can change the rules.”

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