It’s not exactly a surprise when Donald Trump pronounces himself the winner of a Democratic presidential debate. It’s a wee bit more surprising when two of the Democratic contenders fit him for the crown, too. Fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg has self-interested reasons for calling Trump “the real winner,” as he tries to shake off a very bad night with a little humor — and a lot of blamethrowing.
“So how was your night last night?” Bloomberg joked at his Salt Lake City rally today, but followed up by basically arguing that Democrats would lose the race by attacking him instead of stopping Bernie Sanders:
"So how was your night last night?" Michael Bloomberg jokes after contentious #DemDebate that saw multiple candidates attacks him.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 20, 2020
“Look, the real winner in the debate last night was Donald Trump because I worry that we may be on the way to nominating somebody who cannot win in November,” the former New York City mayor said. “If we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base like Senator Sanders, it will be a fatal error.
“We need Democrats, and Independents, and Republicans to win,” he continued, “and that was the coalition that propelled Democrats to success in the midterms and its the coalition that we need to win in November.”
It’s a good argument, but it comes from a flawed messenger — and everyone saw just how flawed Bloomberg is last night. After spending a reported $409 million of his own money to finally arrive on the debate stage, Bloomberg discovered that having the right political strategy doesn’t mean one is the right candidate for the job. It also doesn’t absolve a candidate from preparing better for what were obvious attack strategies for his opponents.
Chiming in for the billionaire hat trick is Tom Steyer, who didn’t qualify for the Nevada debate despite — unlike Bloomberg — actually being on the caucus ballot. The main takeaway for Steyer, he tells CNN, is that Trump benefited the most from the debacle that unfolded on stage:
“Because I saw so much bickering between Democratic candidates tearing each other down and going after each other and forgetting the fact that what really counts is beating Donald Trump in November of 2020,” Steyer said.
“I saw people going after each other’s personality and records instead of remembering that, in fact, the Democratic Party needs to win in November,” he added.
“Personality and records“? Shouldn’t one’s record be part of any rational political debate for an election? Personal attacks are unhelpful, of course, but that’s much different than discussing how each candidate used their offices to implement policy. If all they do is talk about Orange Man Bad, why bother having debates at all?
If Donald Trump won last night’s debate, by the way, he picked the right time to do so. Thanks to the fully-realized anticipation of a full-on fight with Bloomberg’s inclusion, the ratings for last night’s debate were the best since the first installment in June. That’s not going to make Democrats feel any cheerier.
HUGE #'s for the #DemDebate last night. Looks like 19.7 million on NBC and MSNBC combined. Final # may fluctuate a bit, but it's a new record high for a Dem debate, beating last June's.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 20, 2020