Warren hits Bloomberg for giving money to ‘right-wing’ Republicans – updates

Follow along with our live coverage of the Democratic debate.

New debate hero: Amy Klobuchar’s ‘Uncle Dick in the deer stand’

Twitter users have a new political hero, courtesy of Amy Klobuchar’s gun control policy.

The Minnesota senator said her proposals would not affect hunters – or, as she put, they wouldn’t hurt “Uncle Dick in the deer stand.”

Twitter users went wild in hailing “Uncle Dick,” including comments that frankly are not suitable for a family newspaper.

“Shout-out to Uncle Dick in the deer stand,” tweeted Charlotte Clymer, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign.

To be sure, Klobuchar isn’t the first politician to invoke “real people” when talking policy.

Phil Gramm, the former Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate, used to say he evaluated plans based on how they would affect a friend named Dicky Flatt. He called it the “Dicky Flatt Test.”

David Jackson

Biden to gun makers: ‘I’m coming for you’

In a lively exchange on gun control, Joe Biden pointedly put gun manufacturers on notice.

“If I’m elected, I’m coming for you,” he said, “and gun manufacturers, I’m going to take you on.”

The back-and-forth over gun control was especially pertinent because the presidential debate is being held not far from where nine people were killed in a mass shooting in a black church in 2015.

Asked why Congress has failed to pass gun-control measures despite a long string of mass shootings in this country, Biden slammed Bernie Sanders for his past support of a measure that would shield gun manufacturers from lawsuits.

Sanders defended his record. He said he supports expanded background checks and ending a loophole that allows private individuals to sell or trade weapons at gun shows without undergoing a background check.

It’s time to “do what the American people want, not what the NRA wants,” he said.

Elizabeth Warren said Senate Republicans block gun-control measures and that the only way to pass such legislation is to roll back the filibuster, a parliamentary device frequently used to block legislation.

Michael Collins

Bloomberg pokes fun at himself

Michael Bloomberg, trying to make up for his widely-criticized performance at last week’s debate, made a joke about how he did.

Bloomberg said he’s surprised that the other candidates showed up “after I did such a good job at beating them last week.” He thought “that they’d be a little bit afraid to do that,” Bloomberg added, to some laughter from the audience.

Bloomberg also seemed peeved at the often free-for-all nature of the debate, complaining that none of his “fellow contestants” were following the time limits.

Maureen Groppe

Bloomberg starts to say he ‘bought’ Democrats while discussing his campaign contributions

After getting bashed by Elizabeth Warren for his giving to Republican candidates, Michael Bloomberg tried to make amends by pointing out that he gave around $100 million to Democratic congressional candidates in the 2018 cycle.

Bloomberg, a former Republican mayor of New York City, said his money helped elect 21 of the 40 House Democratic candidates and was ultimately responsible for flipping the House to Democratic control.

“All of the new Democrats (who) came in and put Nancy Pelosi in charge and gave the Congress the ability to control this president, I bough—I got them (in),” he said, appearing to catch himself before he said the word “bought.”

Ledyard King

Bloomberg hit over NDA’s

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and billionaire Michael Bloomberg had a tense exchange over him releasing women from confidentiality agreements that may have been signed in connection with settlements of claims, and prohibit both parties from discussing certain information.

Warren dismissed Bloomberg calling such issues a “sideshow” and regurgitated allegations of Bloomberg telling a pregnant employee to “kill it” in the 1990’s. Bloomberg has denied this claim, and passionately said Tuesday, “I never said that!”

“People want a chance to hear from the women who have worked for Mike Bloomberg,” Warren continued of the discrimination alleged of Bloomberg and his company. “Let us have the opportunity to have the women speak.” 

Bloomberg continued that he was wrong to make the jokes, alluding to comments he made during the last debate that women took his jokes wrong. 

During her CNN town hall a few days ago, Warren read a legal document she drew up Bloomberg to sign, saying it would release women who worked for his company from nondisclosure agreements. 

Tuesday, Bloomberg seemed to acknowledge that Warren’s attacks during the last debate and onward influenced his decision to release some women from their NDAs.

 “I don’t know what else she wants us to do,” he said of Warren, and briefly thanked her for pressing this issue. “The problem with this senator is, enough is never enough.” 

During the first debate, Warren used her opening time on stage to slam Bloomberg, “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.”

Savannah Behrmann

There’s a reason Joe Biden is attacking Tom Steyer

Private businessman Tom Steyer is not the most well-known Democrat in the field, but there’s a reason Joe Biden has attacked him in this debate.

Steyer is doing well in pre-primary polls in South Carolina and appears to be taking votes from Biden.

So Biden, who sees South Carolina as a must-win state, went after Steyer for his lack of political experience and his support for private prisons.

“Tommy come lately,” Biden said at one point.

Steyer said Biden (and the other candidates) are part of a failed Democratic leadership that needs to be replaced.

He also pulled 18% in a pre-debate CBS poll in South Carolina poll, trailing only Biden (28%) and Bernie Sanders (23%)

David Jackson

Buttigieg says Sanders would cost Democrats Congress

In a back-and-forth on the cost of Bernie Sanders’ health care plan, Pete Buttigieg interjected to say what he thought the real cost is.

“It adds up to four more years of Donald Trump,” Buttigieg said. And it would mean Republicans winning both the House and Senate.

The House Democrats trying to defend the most competitive districts are not embracing Medicare for All, he said. Instead, they are running away from Sanders’ platform as fast as they can.

Amy Klobuchar, who is competing for many of the same voters as Buttigieg, had a similar attack on Sanders. Klobuchar said most of the public doesn’t support Medicare for All, which can’t be enacted. Democrats should focus on making health insurance and prescription drugs less expensive, she said, instead of focusing on a “bunch of broken promises that sound good on bumper stickers.”

Maureen Groppe

Steyer warns Democrats risk of re-electing Trump

 Tom Steyer said Democrats are taking a huge gamble if they nominate Bernie Sanders or Michael Bloomberg to take on Donald Trump in November.

 Echoing concerns raised by other Democrats as Sanders has soared into the lead in most polls, Steyer said the party risks re-electing Trump if its nominee “is going to be a Democratic socialist” or – in Bloomberg’s case – “someone who has a long history of being a Republican.”

 “If we can not pull this party together, … we have a terrible risk of re-electing Donald Trump,” Steyer said.

 Sanders pointed to polls showing that he beats Trump.

 —Michael Collins

Warren hits Bloomberg for giving money to ‘right-wing’ Republicans

Elizabeth Warren revived her attacks on Michael Bloomberg in the Charleston debate, this time with an emphasis on the money he has given to “right-wing” Republican candidates.

The list includes South Carolina’s own GOP senator Lindsey Graham, Warren said, as well as a Republican who opposed her in a Senate race.

“It didn’t work,” Warren said.

Warren said she doesn’t care how much money Bloomberg has, but core Democrats cannot trust him because he has backed so many Republicans.

“He has not earned their trust,” Warren said.

Bloomberg did not address his past GOP endorsements but instead cited his experience as New York mayor.

“I know what to do,” Bloomberg said.

David Jackson

Bloomberg and Buttigieg address race issues

As he was at the last debate, Michael Bloomberg was pressed on the controversial practice of “stop and frisk” policing conducted during his tenure as mayor. Bloomberg has apologized for that, so what exactly was he apologizing for, the moderator asked.

Bloomberg said he was apologizing for having let the practice get out of control. When that happened, he said, he cut it back and met with black leaders.

He pointed to the more than 100 black elected officials who have endorsed him when asked how he could put to rest any lingering fears about stop and frisk.

Pete Buttigieg, when prompted by the moderator, said that the practice was racist.

“It was about profiling people based on race,” he said.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, added that he’s coming at the issue of discrimination with a “great deal of humility” because his community has had its own struggles.

And he said that he’s concerned that everyone on the debate stage talking about is white so does not have the lived experience to know what it’s like to be a person of color.

Maureen Groppe

Biden hits Bernie on gun control voting record 

Former Vice President Joe Biden hit Sen. Bernie Sanders on his record on guns, especially his votes against the Brady Bill, which established background checks and waiting periods for handgun purchases. 

“You know, we talk about progressive. Let’s talk about being progressive,” Biden said, continuing to argue that the Brady Bill may have prevented a white supremacist from taking nine lives at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which is in Charleston where the debate is being held. 

“Bernie voted five times against the Brady Bill,” he continued. “A waiting period of twelve-hours. I’m not saying he’s responsible for the nine deaths, but that man would not have been able to get that weapon with the waiting period have been what I suggested, until you are cleared.”

Sanders has long backed an assault weapons ban, but on background checks, he argued the decision should be left to the states. He has previously defended his opposition to federal restrictions, such as the Brady Bill, on the grounds that his votes reflected the views of his constituents in Vermont, a rural state with many hunting enthusiasts.

– Savannah Behrmann 

Biden: ‘I will win South Carolina’

Former Vice President Joe Biden was asked how he intended to win South Carolina with polls showing his support slipping among African-Americans.

Biden responded that he intended to earn the vote of African-Americans. But he stressed that he has been coming to the state for years, citing his focus on job creation and support for civil rights and liberties.

Will he drop out of the race if he doesn’t win South Carolina?

“I will win South Carolina,” Biden vowed. “And I will win the African-American vote.”

Michael Collins

Buttigieg: Russia helping Sanders means ‘chaos is coming our way’

It didn’t take long before Bernie sanders had to defend not only his democratic socialist agenda but the help he’s apparently getting from Russia to win the Democratic nomination.

After Michael Bloomberg told Sanders Russia wants him elected, the Vermont senator said he doesn’t want Moscow’s assistance despite U.S. intelligence reports that the Kremlin is interfering in a way that would benefit the Vermont senator.

“Let me tell Mr. Putin who interfered in the 2016 election, trying to bring Americans against Americans: ‘Hey, Mr. Putin, if I’m the president of the United States, trust me, you’re not going to interfere in any more American elections,” Sanders said.

At that point, Pete Buttigieg said there’s a reason Russia wants Sanders as the nominee against Trump, the president the Mueller Report concluded was helped by Putin in 2016: “They don’t have a political party. They want chaos. And chaos is what is coming our way.”

Ledyard King

Donald Trump is probably watching this debate from Air Force One    

Minutes after the Democratic debate began, President Donald Trump arrived at Ramstein air base in Germany as he wings his way back to Washington after his quick trip to India.

The odds that Trump is watching the debate as Air Force One is re-fueled?

Pretty high.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled for tweets.

David Jackson

Warren switches her focus from Bloomberg to Sanders

Elizabeth Warren, who spent most of the last debate going after Michael Bloomberg, immediately homed in on Bernie Sanders this time.

Competing for the most progressive voters, Warren said that she and Sanders agree on a lot of things but she would make a better president because she will dig into the details to make change happen.

As an example, she said she built the coalitions to fight the banks and reform the financial system.

While both want universal health care, she said, Sanders’ plan doesn’t explain how to get there, including paying for it.

“I dug in and did the work and then Bernie’s team trashed me for it,” she said.

Progressives have shot, she concluded, and “we need to spend it on a leader who will get something done.”

Maureen Groppe

Sanders: Doesn’t everybody still love me?

Anticipating he will be the target at tonight’s debate, Bernie Sanders sent out a mocking tweet just minutes before the festivities began in Charleston.

It was a video of the other candidates praising him in the past.

“Looking forward to hearing more enthusiastic support from my opponents tonight,” Sanders.

– David Jackson

Look for Sanders to take heat tonight over guns

Mike Bloomberg took most of the criticism at last week’s debate in Las Vegas, but there are signs that tonight’s South Carolina face-off will put someone else in the barrel: Front-runner Bernie Sanders.

Bloomberg, Joe Biden and their aides served notice that the victor in New Hampshire and Nevada will be called upon, again, to explain his record on guns.

“Ban assault weapons,” Biden tweeted an hour before the debate. “Enact universal background checks. Hold gun manufacturers accountable. End our gun violence epidemic.”

Bloomberg also tweeted ahead of the contest that “on the debate stage tonight, I hope we get a chance to talk about something I’ve dedicated my life to: ending gun violence.”

Sanders, who has voted against gun control measures during his congressional career, has said he represented the views of his gun ownership constituency in Vermont.

But Sanders, criticized on the gun issue by Hillary Clinton during their 2016 primary battle, has also said he has “evolved” on the issue – and will likely echo that argument tonight in Charleston.

Bloomberg’s damage control

One of the toughest hits Michael Bloomberg took in last week’s debate was Elizabeth Warren’s pressure to end the non-disclosure agreements between his company and women who raised complaints about how they were treated.

Two days later, Bloomberg agreed to release three women from their confidentiality agreements. The women had complained about comments he’d made, according to the campaign.

Bloomberg is now running ads featuring praise from other women who’ve worked for him.

“There’s nobody that I respect more and felt more respected by,” one woman says.

Reporting by ABC News, The Washington Post and other outlets previously revealed a history of allegations of sexism, pregnancy discrimination and a hostile work environment in Bloomberg’s company. 

His longtime partner, Diana Taylor, was plainspoken when asked by CBS Monday to respond to those bothered by the allegations against Bloomberg and bothered by his response to the issue at last week’s debate.

“It was 30 years ago,” she said. “Get over it.”

Bloomberg’s campaign later said Taylor was offering her personal view and was not speaking for the campaign.

–Maureen Groppe

Billionaire Bloomberg has spent more than $100 million on digital ads per report

Michael Bloomberg who has suggested he might pony up as much as $1 billion of his own fortune to defeat President Donald Trump, has outspent his Democratic primary opponents when it comes to digital advertising.

Combined.

With South Carolina’s Saturday primary approaching as well as the 14 Super Tuesday states three days later, the former New York City mayor has coughed up more than $101 million in digital ads across the country, according to an analysis by the liberal advocacy group ACRONYM.

More than 60 percent of Bloomberg’s on-line spending has been in Michigan, according to the analysis, which covers the period through Feb. 16. The analysis does not include campaign spending by candidates on television and radio.

The rest of the Democratic field has collectively spent about $88 million on digital advertising with Tom Steyer ($29.9 million), Bernie Sanders ($15.7 million), Pete Buttigieg ($15.4 million) and Elizabeth Warren ($12.2) rounding out the top five.

The analysis shows Bloomberg also has spent more than twice the $44 million Trump has committed.

Ledyard King

Warren is still gunning for Bloomberg

As Elizabeth Warren eviscerated Michael Bloomberg in last week’s debate, a Wikipedia user edited Bloomberg’s page to say he had died of wounds inflicted by Warren.

The Massachusetts senators raised millions of dollars after her performance, although pundits noted that it’s Bernie Sanders who is blocking Warren’s path for the nomination more than Bloomberg.

We don’t know what she’ll do on stage Tuesday. But she is out with an ad attacking Bloomberg that’s running in Super Tuesday states.

“You’ve probably seen more ads for Michael Bloomberg than the rest of us running for president put together,” she says in the ad. “Big money is powerful. But it doesn’t always win.”

The example she gives is her 2012 Senate race in which Bloomberg supported the campaign of her GOP opponent.

“But I beat him anyway,” Warren says.

– Maureen Groppe 

Democrats expected to make Sanders “feel the burn” on debate stage

Fresh off a dominating win in the Nevada Caucuses Saturday, Bernie Sanders ascends the debate stage Tuesday night in Charleston, S.C., with a bullseye on his back.

Not only has the Vermont senator emerged as the early frontrunner but his controversial comments he made praising aspects of Fidel Castro’s Cuba has already drawn sharp criticism from his opponents, notable former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Sanders’ remarks during an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night is expected to be a topic his rivals will raise during the debate if the moderators don’t bring it up first.

The two-hour debate, which starts at 8 p.m., is being co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus institute.

Cuba controversy:Sanders praises some of Castro’s policies, angering Republicans and Democrats in Florida

Palmetto punch:Why GOP-friendly South Carolina is still a key state for Democratic presidential hopefuls

Aside from Sanders and Bloomberg, the stage will feature former vice president Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, California businessman Tom Steyer, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

Steyer missed the last debate in Las Vegas but qualified for the one in South Carolina where he’s spent millions to keep his flagging campaign hopes alive. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii did not qualify to appear in Charleston.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign event on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP) ORG XMIT: TXAUS110

South Carolina’s primary is Saturday. Most polls show Biden with a slight lead over Sanders with Steyer coming in third. Bloomberg is not on the ballot but he and the other Democrats on stage will be when voters in the 14 states that make up Super Tuesday three days later go to the polls.

Tuesday’s debate could be the last for several candidates who might not be able to keep their campaigns afloat without a strong showing on Super Tuesday.

Positions:2020 candidates on the issues: A voter’s guide to where they stand on health care, gun control and more

Interactive guide:Who is running for president in 2020? An interactive guide

The calendar:When are the 2020 presidential election primaries?

Continue reading at USA Today