The New York Post headline was pretty grim: “Black and Bloom” read the caption and the picture was a full-face photo of the candidate with a black eye and a band-aid on his chin.
How bad was it for Michael Bloomberg?
Mike Bloomberg’s millions in campaign spending flew right out the window Wednesday night.
The billionaire’s self-bankrolled presidential bid was torn to shreds in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s Democratic debate as his opponents skewered him for his checkered past on sexual harassment and his record on stop-and-frisk.
Each candidate on the Las Vegas stage attacked Bloomberg right out of the gate, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren made the former Big Apple mayor visibly squirm and roll his eyes in frustration.
Warren didn’t need much to make Bloomberg “squirm.”
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against, a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians,’” she said from the Paris Theater.
“And, no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
About 130 million Americans will cast their vote on Election Day in November. How many voters saw the debate last night? The broadcast numbers on NBC show about 10 million people tuned in with another couple of million who watched on MSNBC and Telemundo. Even if you include those who heard or read about the debate, you’re looking at less than 20 percent of the electorate.
Bloomberg may have lost a little shine with the national press, but in the larger universe of the electorate, his debate performance will be a blip on the screen.
But he’s got to do better than this on the #MeToo thing.
Bloomberg also became irritated when Warren asked him to release dozens of women from nondisclosure agreements they signed after working for his financial media company, Bloomberg LP.
“None of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told,” Bloomberg said to guffaws from the audience.
Joking about sex is a forbidden subject with many women today — unless, of course, the woman is so backward and insufficiently woke that she actually enjoys talking about sex with men. Then it’s still the man’s fault for keeping her ignorant.
But really, how bad did Bloomberg “perform” during the debate? Is criticism of him exaggerated? Did that exchange with Warren cost him the nomination?
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Not bad for Bloomberg. Although he was probably the weakest on points of everyone on stage — they pretty much all delivered strong performances, with Warren and Pete Buttigieg and Biden especially vigorous, and Bernie Sanders his standard old self — he did fine.
He survived many quivers of slings and arrows without making big mistakes. Nobody expects raw, pulsing magnetism from Mike Bloomberg. He came across as calm and competent, more no-nonsense manager than persuasive politician, which is kind of the point.
When Biden said Bloomberg called Obamacare “a disgrace” (which is true — in a 2010 speech he said it was just “another program that’s going to cost a lot more money”), Bloomberg correctly responded that he’s “a fan of Obamacare” and referenced a Daily News op-ed he wrote in 2009 making the case for a public option.
The media has their favorites just like regular partisan Democrats — which they are, but will deny it. And even those who watched the debate weren’t all looking for that one “gotcha” moment that will be replayed over and over. To the casual debate watcher, Bloomberg appeared rather ordinary. He was confident without bragging, cool without being too boring.
He was the same person on stage as what he is in real life: a smart, savvy technocrat who has limited ideological baggage. That’s not enough to get the nomination, but it’s enough to force Sanders to spend money to defeat him.
That plays right into Trump and the GOP’s hands.