Updated Feb 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sanders accuses Bloomberg of trying to "buy" the 2020 election

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg. Photos: Drew Angerer; Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders tore into 2020 rival Michael Bloomberg at a Las Vegas campaign event Saturday, saying the billionaire and former New York mayor is trying to "buy the presidency" by paying millions of dollars in advertising.

Why it matters: Bloomberg has surged in national polling recently, having poured millions of dollars into campaign ads largely targeting Trump. His candidacy has become an obvious foil for Sanders, whose grassroots campaign railing against billionaires and the establishment has vaulted him to front-runner status.

What he's saying: At the event, Sanders also said, "We will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for, and enacted, racist policies like stop-and-frisk, which caused communities of color in his city to live in fear. We will not defeat Donald Trump with a candidate who in 2015 stated, and I quote: ‘I, for example, am not in favor, have never been in favor of raising the minimum wage.’

We will not defeat Donald Trump with a candidate who opposed modest proposals during Barack Obama’s presidency to raise taxes on the wealthy, while advocating for cuts to Medicare and Social Security. We will not defeat Donald Trump with a candidate who, instead of holding the crooks on Wall Street accountable, blamed the end of the racist policies such as red-lining for the financial crisis. Mayor Bloomberg with all his money, will not create the kind of excitement and energy we need to have the voter turnout we must have to defeat Donald Trump."
— Bernie Sanders, per the WashPost's Dave Weigel

The big picture: Bloomberg is not on the ballot in Nevada, which will host its caucuses next Saturday. He does, however, have a chance to qualify for the Las Vegas debate on Feb. 19, which would mark the first time he and his 2020 competitors would face off in person.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details from Sanders' speech.

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The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

Warren calls Bloomberg an "egomaniac billionaire" ahead of his first debate

Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. Photos: Alex Wong and Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday in accusing former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg of buying his way into the 2020 election, ahead of the ninth Democratic debate on Wednesday.

What she's saying: In a tweet, Warren wrote: "It’s a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate. But at least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire."

Debate night: Democrats fight for make-or-break moments in Nevada

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg defended his wealth to his Democratic competitors in his debate debut, while Sen. Bernie Sanders, a front-runner, faced comparisons to President Trump over his populist appeals, at the ninth Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday just days before the Nevada caucuses.

The big picture: Sanders argued that Bloomberg's version of centrism won't produce the voter turnout needed to beat Trump. Bloomberg retorted that he doesn't think there's "any chance, whatsoever" of Sanders beating Trump and struck at the senator's Medicare for All plan.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy