Democrats Look Ahead From Nevada and See a Common Enemy: Bloomberg

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Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, and his wife, Jill, greet voters at an early voting location in Las Vegas, Feb. 15, 2020. (Bridget Bennett/The New York Times)

 

Trip Gabriel

c.2020 The New York Times Company

 

LAS VEGAS — The Democratic presidential candidates raced Sunday to make the most of their final weekend day before the Nevada caucuses, selling their messages and tearing into their opponents.

But the rival they focused on most intently was one who isn’t even competing in the state.

“I got news for Mr. Bloomberg,” Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said at an event in Carson City, Nevada, taking aim at the former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, within five minutes of opening his remarks. “The American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections.”

In a rarity, former Vice President Joe Biden echoed his progressive counterpart. “Sixty billion dollars can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can’t erase your record,” he said of Bloomberg in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that aired Sunday.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, another moderate, had similar thoughts. “I’m here getting votes,” Klobuchar said in an interview Sunday. “It’s not something where I can just — what would be the word — transport in a bunch of ads.” She called on Bloomberg to “go on the shows that every other candidate goes on, on the Sunday shows and the like.”

She added: “I don’t think I’m going to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage.”

At a forum Sunday focused on infrastructure, Klobuchar, who won the endorsement of The Las Vegas Sun last week, mentioned Bloomberg early on, referring to President Donald Trump’s comments about his height as she stood to speak. “I am the only candidate that is 5-foot-4,” she joked. “I want that out there now.”

The fixation on Bloomberg reflected his rising prominence in the Democratic race, even though he is skipping the first four nominating contests and focusing on the 14 Super Tuesday states that will vote March 3.

As early voting continued in Nevada, some of the criticism seemed to be sticking.

“Bloomberg just has bad connotations that come along with him,” Leah Garwood said as she waited in line Sunday in Las Vegas for roughly 45 minutes to vote for a different billionaire, Tom Steyer of California.