Drunkblogging the Debut Dem Debate with Mini Mike

Ever since Mike Bloomberg and his $60 billion decided to take squatters rights on the Democratic presidential primary season, he's been the Voldemort of the campaign.

He Who Shall Not Be Named

Over the last few debates, the contenders have engaged in the occasional hissy fit at one another, but none of the serious contenders had yet to draw any serious blood.

But tonight, stuff gets real.

Bloomberg has been buying up all the ground game talent, all the consultants, all the analysts, and all the pollsters. And all at pay rates that not even Tom Steyer can afford to match. What Bloomberg hasn't been able to buy is a single vote -- at least not yet -- having gotten in late and decided to skip the four initial contests before Super Tuesday on March 3.

Tonight and next week's debates might be the only chance the other contenders have to draw blood on Voldemort before the noise from Mayor Mike's Madcap Money Machine drowns them all out.

From where I sit, the nomination still looks like Bernie's to lose, and so far he's taken a pulled-punches approach to personal attacks on his fellow Democrats. But Bloomberg has been going after him on the airwaves, and the Sanders camp can't afford to respond in kind. If Sanders is going to knock Mike off his box, he'll have to do it in person.

In other words: It's not business; it's personal.

So let's hope tonight is when the long knives come out.

For whom, you ask?

For everybody.

If we're lucky.

The drunkblog starts...

NOW!

The real tell tonight?

Bloomberg's applause lines either fell flat or garnered a few boos. Sometimes more than a few.

Maybe it's the crowd. Maybe he lacks the charisma to deliver an applause line. Maybe Democrats just don't like him.

Whatever the reason is, it makes me wonder if lobbying to get himself on the debate stage before his first contest on Super Tuesday was an operational-level error.

The other candidates were going to go after him no matter what during his first debate appearance. But without Bloomberg having proven first on Super Tuesday that he has a constituency, they were absolutely fearless in going after him. Maybe, if he had waited a month, he'd have been better prepared. Maybe, with a solid Super Tuesday showing under his belt, Bloomberg's rivals would have been more trepidatious in their attacks.

But he went all-in tonight, not fully prepared and completely untested.

It didn't go well.

But credit is due to the other five candidates who at various times went all-in on making tonight's debate unique out of the nine held so far: It wasn't a snoozefest.

Tonight's most interesting detail, however, is the one we'll never know: How many NDAs will be signed after Bloomberg is done berating his people who sent him swimming among the sharks?

Closing statements time.

If you've followed along with these drunkblogs before tonight, you know the drill: The candidates give the Speed Dating version of their stump speech, so it's safe to tune out.

Go home. Taranto won this round.

Final Question: Should the DNC nominate whoever has the most delegates, even if it isn't a majority?

Everybody wants to play by the rules except Sanders.

"You've memorized a bunch of talking points and a bunch of things."

Klobuchar, again on the attack against Buttigieg.

She sounded whiny on the second go-around.

"I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete."

Later, Klobuchar will make a slow-witted intern wear a Buttigieg wig while she throws volumes of the Federal Register at them.

It's her best night yet. Too late, but I admire her willingness to tear the roof off the mutha.

Biden is back in Word Vomit Mode, after some strong(ish) answers earlier.

I think it's past his bedtime.

It's nearly past mine.

Throwdown.

Bloomberg's been running ads (which Obama has been silent on) claiming to have been all hand-in-glove working with Obama. It's a direct appeal to the black voters wavering on Biden, and if the polls are at all accurate, it's working.

Buttigieg came right out and reminded people that Bloomberg had been opposed to Obama.

It was a good riff, but it was wasted as a throwaway line instead of as the schwerpunkt of a major assault on Mini MIke.

Let me re-post this once before the fun & frolic ends...

The last two drunkblogs we tried something new: A big discount for drunkblog fans who become PJMedia/Townhall VIP or VIP Gold members. Both membership drives were such big successes that the awesome guy in charge of it all, Storm Paglia, says I’ll never have to buy my own drinks in his presence.

Let’s keep a good thing going, shall we?

Tonight we’re offering a 15% discount to new VIP members who sign up using a one-time promo code coined by yours truly.

It’s MiniMike.

Plug MiniMike in on our signup page, and gain access to exclusive columns and podcasts at all six Townhall sites for an (almost) unprecedented 15% off.

And you’ll also help keep one of your favorite bloggers from ever going thirsty again.