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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Facebook is in the midst of the largest ad boycott in its history, with nearly 1,000 brands having stopped paid advertising in July because they feel Facebook hasn't done enough to remove hate speech from its namesake app and Instagram.

Axios Re:Cap spoke with the boycott's four main organizers, who met on Tuesday with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top Facebook executives, to learn why they organized the boycott, what they took from the meeting, and what comes next.

Boycott organizers slam Facebook following tense virtual meeting

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Civil rights leaders blasted Facebook's top executives shortly after speaking with them on Tuesday, saying that the tech giant's leaders "failed to meet the moment" and were "more interested in having a dialogue than producing outcomes."

Why it matters: The likely fallout from the meeting is that the growing boycott of Facebook's advertising platform, which has reached nearly 1000 companies in less than a month, will extend longer than previously anticipated, deepening Facebook's public relations nightmare.

Steve Scalise PAC invites donors to fundraiser at Disney World

Photo: Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s PAC is inviting lobbyists to attend a four-day “Summer Meeting” at Disney World's Polynesian Village in Florida, all but daring donors to swallow their concern about coronavirus and contribute $10,000 to his leadership PAC.

Why it matters: Scalise appears to be the first House lawmakers to host an in-person destination fundraiser since the severity of pandemic became clear. The invite for the “Summer Meeting” for the Scalise Leadership Fund, obtained by Axios, makes no mention of COVID-19.