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Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

1. As Axios previewed this morning, the candidates came armed with decades of opposition research designed to paint Bloomberg as a Democratic Trump — an egomaniac New York billionaire stained by sexism and racial prejudice, and hell-bent on buying power and puppeteering mass media.

  • That was clear within minutes, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren launched into the first of many attacks: "I'd like to talk about who we're running against. We're talking about 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's record continued to be savaged throughout the night as he faced questions about his support for stop-and-frisk, endorsement of former President George W. Bush, history of sexist comments, non-disclosure agreements at his company, tax returns and more.
  • Bloomberg's best moments of the night came when the onslaught was directed at the other front-runner, Bernie Sanders, and he was able to fade into the background.

2. The biggest beneficiary of Bloomberg's presence was Warren, who found the foil she desperately needed after disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. She faced questions after the New Hampshire debate about why she didn't get more speaking time, and it was clear she wasn't going to let that happen again.

  • With little to lose, Warren targeted nearly every candidate on health care, calling Buttigieg's plan "a slogan that was thought out by his consultants," Klobuchar's plan "a Post-it Note — insert plan here," and jabbing Sanders for "relentlessly attacking everyone" who questions his version of Medicare for All.
  • A Warren aide tweeted toward the end of the debate that the campaign raised $425,000 in 30 minutes. If this debate doesn't boost her polling numbers, it's unlikely any debate will.

3. Joe Biden, long the front-runner but increasingly an afterthought, had one of his strongest debates of this cycle. The surge of Bloomberg, whom Biden has accused of falsely touting an endorsement from former President Obama in his campaign ads, seemed to energize the former vice president, who accused the billionaire of being a Republican.

  • Biden arguably needs to win in South Carolina, long viewed as his firewall due to its significant black population, if his campaign is to remain viable long-term.

4. Buttigieg and Klobuchar, two Midwestern moderates fighting for a similar bloc of voters, faced off in some of the most heated — and seemingly personal — clashes of the night.

  • Klobuchar accused the former South Bend, Ind., mayor of insinuating she was "dumb" and unqualified for not knowing the name of Mexico's president, and later quipped: “I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete." She left the stage at the end of the night without shaking his hand.
  • Both candidates performed well in New Hampshire, splitting the moderate vote as Biden continued his free-fall. But with little support among minority communities and Bloomberg consolidating support in Super Tuesday states, Buttigieg and Klobuchar face an existential threat to each others' campaigns going forward.

The bottom line: The big winner of the night was likely the front-runner Bernie Sanders. He faced the usual criticism on the cost of his plans and his self-identifying democratic socialist label, but the novelty and bitterness of the attacks on Bloomberg is what will be remembered from tonight.

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Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.

Manhattan prosecutors reportedly obtain millions of pages of Trump's tax records

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Manhattan district attorney is now in possession of millions of pages of former President Trump's tax and financial records, CNN first reported, following a Supreme Court ruling that allowed prosecutors to enforce a subpoena after a lengthy legal battle.

Why it matters: Trump fought for years to keep his tax returns out of the public eye and away from prosecutors in New York, who are examining his business in a criminal investigation that was first sparked by hush-money payments made by Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 election.