At last — an honest moment from a presidential primary debate! At least, this was almost an honest moment, but Michael Bloomberg caught himself just in time. The other Democrats on stage have attacked Bloomberg repeatedly for buying his way onto the stage and attempting to buy the party’s presidential nomination with his own personal cash. Elizabeth Warren in particular went after Bloomberg hard in this debate on that very subject.
That’s funny, Bloomberg responded — they didn’t object two years ago, he declared, when he bought them a House majority. Er, got them a House majority. Got! Got, he said:
Bloomberg: “Let’s just go on the record. They talk about 40 Democrats, 21 of those were people that I spent $100 million to help elect. All of the new Democrats that came in, put Pelosi in charge, and gave the Congress the ability to control this president, I bought – I got them” pic.twitter.com/KlC2lJIpRX
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 26, 2020
The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra did a little research on Bloomberg’s claim, and delivered a fact check: true rating for it. Fifteen months ago, the New York Times offered Bloomberg a great deal of credit for having bought, er, got Democrats that do-nothing-but-impeach House majority:
Big donors — like the Adelsons, the Uihleins and the Koch brothers on the Republican side, and Tom Steyer and George Soros on the Democratic side — have become integral and influential players in every election cycle. But in this year’s midterm elections, Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, emerged as a powerful and effective force, as well as the biggest outside spender promoting Democratic House candidates, according to disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Records filed so far show that organizations controlled and funded by Mr. Bloomberg spent more than $41 million on 24 House races, much of it on eye-catching ads rolled out on social media and broadcast on television in the crucial final days of the campaign.
And while it’s impossible to conclude that any one factor tipped the balance in a race, Mr. Bloomberg appears to have reaped the benefits of his millions in giving. Democrats won 21 of the 24 races he sought to influence. Of those, 12 had been considered either tossups or in Republican districts.
“The mission was to flip the House. Success or failure would be defined by that,” said Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to Mr. Bloomberg.
Assessing the election outcome, Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, cited Mr. Bloomberg’s spending as a significant factor. “Michael Bloomberg’s money went a long way. He defeated a lot of people by writing those $5 million checks,” Mr. McCarthy told CNBC.
Gee, no one was complaining about his billionaire money back in 2018! The argument now might even be that Bloomberg’s not so much buying the nomination as he is protecting his investment. Bloomy didn’t spend all that money just to see Democrats throw it away by nominating an old socialist crank that will flip all those seats back to the GOP after just two years.
One can even respect that argument, in a way, more than the hyperventilating over Bloomberg’s free exercise of speech that came from most of the other candidates on stage. Ironically or not, the one candidate with the strongest moral position to make that anti-outside money speech is also the one that Bloomberg is targeting most — Bernie Sanders. The rest of the candidates on stage have no trouble taking billionaire money as long as they can (a) keep their fingerprints off it and (b) it’s in complete service to themselves, their agenda, or both.
If Bloomberg’s serious about that argument, though, he should explicitly state the threat rather than hint at it. Why not just come out and say, “If you want my money in the fight against Donald Trump, you’ll have to put me on the ticket?” That is, after all, what he’s implicitly threatening, especially if Sanders gets the nomination. His team will be making that argument in a brokered convention, to be sure. Why not just be fully honest and say it now? At least that way we all realize that we’ve entered the post-Marcus Aurelius era of the Democratic Party.
Update: Team Bloomberg and Team Sanders agree on one thing — Bloomy can skip spending money on a Bernie campaign:
Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ closest aide, said the Democratic front-runner would not want Bloomberg’s help.
“It’s a hard no,” Weaver told NBC News after Tuesday night’s debate. “Bernie has said he’s going to fund his presidential campaign with small-dollar contributions, and I think we can do that. I think we can raise over a billion dollars in small-dollar contributions.”
Sanders cannot control or dictate what independent groups do on his behalf since campaign finance law prohibits candidates from coordinating strategy with outside groups. But Bloomberg’s team has said the mogul would not spend on behalf of a candidate who rejected his help.
“Bernie said he didn’t want [Bloomberg’s] money, so we’re not going to. I don’t think it would be prudent to spend on behalf of somebody who didn’t want it,” Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to Bloomberg, told NBC News after the debate.
“I think everyone else has said they want the help, including Elizabeth Warren,” Wolfson added. “If Elizabeth Warren is the nominee, we will do everything we can to help her. Sanders is the one candidate who said he didn’t want the help.”
Consider that Bloomberg’s counter-offer, I suppose.