Bloomberg turns his fire, for now, from Trump to Bernie Sanders

Michael Bloomberg launched a series of Twitter attacks on Bernie Sanders Monday as the billionaire former New York mayor seeks to slow the Vermont senator’s march to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Bloomberg, a strong gun-control advocate, attacked Sanders over votes that were aligned with the position of the National Rifle Association.

Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders, noted that Sanders has supported a ban on assault weapons, a controversial position in his state.

“The NRA never endorsed Bernie Sanders and he has never taken a dime of their money. In fact, he lost his 1988 congressional race because he backed an assault weapons ban,” Weaver said in a statement. “But even after that, Sanders maintained his opposition to these weapons of war.”

Michael Bloomberg. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

Bloomberg’s online ad was one of several promoted on his social media channels Monday that sought to draw a contrast between the two candidates on the issue of guns.

For his part, Sanders responded with a tweet saying Bloomberg “profits from private equity vultures and the destruction of the planet.” It linked to a story on the left-wing website the Intercept, which pieced together fragmentary details of how Bloomberg invests his $60 billion fortune.

Bloomberg, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising that until now has been aimed mostly at President Trump, has not attacked any of the other Democratic candidates. His campaign is considering unleashing a wave of advertising against Sanders on a wide range of platforms, CNBC reported, although he has pledged to keep his massive campaign operation going through November, in support of the eventual Democratic nominee, whoever it is.

In another tweet, Bloomberg joined the chorus of criticism over Sanders’s praise on “60 Minutes” on Sunday for the literacy program of Cuba’s late communist dictator Fidel Castro.

In his interview with “60 Minutes,” Sanders stopped short of saying he would refuse to accept money from Bloomberg should he win the nomination, but also noted that he wouldn’t need it to win in the general election.

“I don’t think we’re going to need that money because, interestingly enough, I think when you have an agenda as we have that speaks to the needs of working families, you’re going to have millions and millions and millions of people chipping in 10 bucks apiece, 50 bucks a piece, and that’s how you’re going to raise the money you need to defeat Trump,” Sanders said.

Before that happens, however, Sanders may be on the receiving end of millions of dollars worth of negative Bloomberg ads. As of last Friday, Bloomberg had spent $505.8 million promoting his candidacy.

Sanders notched an impressive victory in the Nevada caucuses and is rising in the polls in South Carolina, the next state to vote in the primary. Bloomberg, who entered the race in late November, will not be on the ballot until the March 3 Super Tuesday contests, comprising 14 states.

While Bloomberg’s rise in the polls appears to have been slowed by a poor showing in the Nevada debate, he will have a second opportunity to convince voters that he is a better choice than Sanders in a Tuesday debate in South Carolina.

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