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Photo: John Locher/AP

Mike Bloomberg was booed during his debut debate as a Democratic presidential candidate — indicative of a rusty outing where the former New York mayor looked unprepared to respond to obvious lines of attack.

Why it matters ... The debate underscored the Bloomberg’s campaign biggest fear: It's hard to hide to his prickly demeanor. Bloomberg had all the time, practice and forewarning money could buy — and still struggled mightily on the public stage. 

  • But it'd be foolish to assume blanket ads can't undo the damage. Elizabeth Warren said on MSNBC: "I have no doubt that he is about to drop, tonight, another hundred million dollars on his campaign ... in order to try to erase America’s memory of what happened on that debate stage."

Warren drew cheers when she challenged Bloomberg to release women from "nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace."

  • Bloomberg: "We have a very few nondisclosure agreements."
  • Warren: "How many is that?"
  • Bloomberg: "Let me finish."
  • Warren: "How many is that?"
  • Bloomberg: "None of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn't like a joke I told. ... They signed the agreements and that's what we're going to live with."

The audience booed when Bloomberg later said: "I've said we're not going ... to end these agreements because they were made consensually, and they have every right to expect that they will stay private."

  • Warren provoked the moment of the debate when she said: "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."

Bloomberg replied: "I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior that the #MeToo movement has exposed.  And anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it's appropriate, they're gone that day."

  • Warren jabbed back: "I hope you heard what his defense was: I've been nice to some women. That just doesn't cut it."

Between the lines: The debate left Bernie Sanders firmly in control of the race headed into Super Tuesday on March 3.

  • Bloomberg's campaign has warned — and other top Democrats agree — that with no disruption in the race, Sanders could quickly accumulate an insurmountable delegate lead.  
  • Robert Gibbs, who was White House press secretary under President Obama, said on MSNBC's postgame show: "A lot of the candidates were focused on Bloomberg. And if they do that too much, the polls will close in California in a little less than two weeks, and they’ll see Bernie with a lead that's ultimately insurmountable — something they can’t catch."

The bottom line ... Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg's top strategist, said in a post-debate statement: "He was just warming up tonight."

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Go deeper

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.

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