The former New York mayor’s generally panned performance delivered relief to Trump allies who had worried for weeks that Bloomberg’s unconventional approach to the Democratic primaries, combined with his seemingly infinite war chest, could pose a serious threat. Instead, Bloomberg spent his first 2020 debate getting reamed by opponents making the case that the billionaire presidential candidate had no home inside the modern Democratic party.

Even beyond Bloomberg, Trump allies found themselves delighting in a circular firing squad across the field of Democratic candidates vying for attention.

“Only Democrats could squander two hours of a national prime-time broadcast to drop opposition research on each other,” said a person close to the campaign. “This whole cycle is turning out better than anyone could have imagined.”