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Sparks fly during Las Vegas democratic primary debate

On February 19th the country was able to see the ninth democratic primary debate in Las Vegas. This was the first debate where presidential hopeful, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg participated. The MSNBC moderators asked questions related to healthcare, environmental policy, tax reform, and several other topics. Among the official areas of debate, the candidates took the initiative to add another, mainly the topic of Mike Bloomberg. Senator Elizabeth Warren stole the stoplight with what can honestly be described as the best performance since the launching of her campaign while Senator Bernie Sanders is predicted to win Nevada by a huge margin.

The former mayor has come under intense fire since he began his campaign as he has spent “more than $250 million on TV and radio ads and $45 million to $50 million on digital,” severely outpacing his democratic opponents, as well as President Trump, according to CNBC. A billionaire himself, many supporters of the other candidates view his entry as an attempt to buy the nomination from the other candidates. His opponents did not let him off easy, as Senator Warren, in particular, made a point to lead the charge against Bloomberg by comparing him to President Trump in the first ten minutes of the debate.  Warren stated she was 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.” For the rest of the three-hour debate, Bloomberg was pummeled by the other candidates on his administration’s ‘stop and frisk’ policy in minority neighborhoods, the numerous non-disclosure agreements he has with women concerning his sexual conduct, and his extreme wealth. Providing little, if any, defense against his opponents attacks left Bloomberg the obvious loser of the Las Vegas debate.

Unlike the former New York City Mayor, Senator Warren saw a revitalization in the Nevada debate. After having poor showings in both Iowa and New Hampshire, she used her speaking time to attack her opponents to attempt to secure a leading position. Warren had the most speaking time, clocking in at 16:35, according to The New York Times. Though the polls in Nevada project another poor showing from the Senator, the debate was an opportunity to showcase her viability as a primary candidate. Warren’s brightest moments on the stage came when she was attacking Bloomberg by asking if he would release women from their non-disclosure agreements with him. The former mayor rejected the idea because they were “consensual.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar also made an attempt at distinguishing herself but did not have any breakout moments worth noting.  A possible exception was her argument with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg regarding her mishap in forgetting the name of the President of Mexico in an interview despite being assigned to the Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration while in office. Klobuchar tried to amend her misstep by giving “her greetings to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador” during the debate according to Politico. The news source also noted that “she incorrectly pronounced his first name as “Andre” while doing so. Despite her hopes of moving past the event, Buttigieg continued to press his attack on Klobuchar by saying “You’re staking your candidacy on your Washington experience. You’re on the committee that oversees border security. You’re on the committee that does trade. You’re literally in the part of the committee that’s overseeing these things.” Klobuchar became visibly frustrated at the Mayor’s comments and the two sparred back and forth for several minutes before the moderators intervened.

Former Vice President Biden had another poor showing this week, by simply not talking. He spoke for a collective time of 13:25, which was only slightly higher than Bloomberg, who spoke the least during the debate. Biden was never slated to win Nevada as Sanders was the clear favorite according to recent polls before the debate, but the Former Vice President missed a chance to prove his campaign isn’t dead. MSN described Biden as more of a “bystander” than an actual participant of the debate, further stagnating his stalled bid for the presidency.

Senator Bernie Sanders probably had the best night in the context of his wider campaign, though he was not particularly vocal or confrontational. Sanders stuck to his talking points and was mostly left alone by his opponents and the moderators. Where Sanders did slip-up was when he was addressing criticisms about how aggressive his supporters have been online. Though this has only recently become an issue that other campaigns are willing to talk about, it has simmered in the background since he announced his presidential bid. In response to Buttigieg’s question on why Sanders’ supporters particularly behave this way, Sanders said, “I don’t think that’s especially the case,” making it seem as though the senator wasn’t taking the issue seriously. Sanders did lash out at Bloomberg concerning the billionaire’s wealth by saying, “Mr. Bloomberg, it wasn’t you who made all that money. Maybe your workers played some role in that, as well.” While the rest of the field was jockeying for position the senator mostly stayed above the commotion. With a sizable lead in recent national polls, Sanders simply needed to avoid a major mishap and he did exactly that.

With 60% of the precincts reporting as of Feb. 23rd Sanders is leading with 46% of the vote and 10 delegates. At this point, no other candidate has received delegates.

Sources: MSNBC, CNBC, The New York Times, Politico, MSN

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