Loathing in Las Vegas: This Week in the 2020 Race

We are still not done counting votes in Iowa, but on we go anyway: It’s time for more caucuses. Let’s hope they go more smoothly.

In the meantime, we’ll get you caught up on what happened this week in Nevada and elsewhere on the campaign trail.

If you’re reading this Saturday morning, today is the day! Nevadans will be headed to their caucus locations in a matter of hours, and if all goes according to plan — and yes, we know that’s a big if — we will soon get some results.

Nevada Democratic officials are not taking anything for granted and have provided incredibly detailed instructions on how to, for example, turn on an iPad.

The candidates face their own challenges.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign is banking on second place or better. The largest labor union in Nevada opposes “Medicare for all,” Senator Bernie Sanders’s signature policy. Senator Elizabeth Warren needs to translate her strong debate performance into a strong finish. Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., need to show they can be viable in states that are more racially diverse than Iowa and New Hampshire.




Watch: Highlights From the Democratic Debate

Six Democrats took the stage on Wednesday in Las Vegas, three days before the Nevada caucuses. Among them was a new face: former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.

“I’m a New Yorker. I know how to take on an arrogant con man like Donald Trump.” “I’d like to talk about who we’re 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.” “You should also ask how Mayor Bloomberg in 2004 supported George W. Bush for president.” “The mayor says that he has a great record, that he’s done these wonderful things. Well, the fact — the fact of the matter is, he has not managed his city very, very well when he was there.” “Senator Klobuchar, my colleague specifically asked you if you could name the president of Mexico —” “Yes —” “— and your response was no.” “You’re literally in part of the committee that’s overseeing these things.” “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Are you mocking me here, Pete?” “I’m saying that you shouldn’t trivialize that knowledge.” “I said I made an error. No, no, no, no. You, Pete — you, Pete —” “Hello, hello, hello, hello. Thank you.” “The best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses — what did I miss here?” “Well, you missed that I work in Washington, house 1 —” “That’s the first problem.” “— live in Burlington, house 2 —” “That’s good.” “— and like thousands of other Vermonters, I do have a summer camp. Forgive me for that. Where is your home? Which tax, which tax haven do you have your home?” “New York — New York City, thank you very much.” “We shouldn’t have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out.” “If speaking to the needs and the pain of a long-neglected working class is polarizing, I think you got the wrong word.” “I’ve apologized, I’ve asked for forgiveness, but the bottom line is —” “We stopped too many people, and we’ve got to make sure that we do something about criminal justice in this country.” “I make a lot of money.” “They’ll be out in a few weeks. And that’s just as fast as I can do it.” “He has gotten some number of women — dozens? who knows — to sign nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace.” “We have a very few nondisclosure agreements —” “How many is that?” “Let me finish —” “How many is that?” “None of them accuse me of doing anything other than, maybe they didn’t like a joke I told, and let me just, let me —” “I just want to be clear: Some is how many? And, and when you — and when you say they signed them, and they wanted them, if they wish now to speak out and tell their side of the story about what it is they allege, that’s now OK with you? You’re releasing them on television tonight?” “Senator, no.” “Is that right?”

Six Democrats took the stage on Wednesday in Las Vegas, three days before the Nevada caucuses. Among them was a new face: former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

As our colleagues Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin put it in their recap: “The Democratic presidential candidates turned on one another in scorching and personal terms in a debate on Wednesday night.”

Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York took repeated fire from pretty much everyone, but especially Ms. Warren, who went after him on nondisclosure agreements, his support for stop-and-frisk and his past sexist comments.

Ms. Warren, looking to revitalize her campaign, was more forceful than we have typically seen her and got good reviews for her performance. It seems she also got results: Mr. Bloomberg announced on Friday that his company had identified three nondisclosure agreements involving allegations of inappropriate comments by Mr. Bloomberg, and that the women involved could contact the company to be released from those agreements.

Mr. Sanders, meanwhile, faced questions about his medical history and the behavior of his supporters, and Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Buttigieg clashed several times in exchanges both withering and personal.

“I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete,” Ms. Klobuchar said at one point.

“I’m used to senators telling mayors that senators are more important than mayors,” he responded. “You don’t have to be in Washington to matter.”

Mr. Bloomberg is not competing in Nevada, but he has gotten considerable attention nonetheless as he has continued to spend copious amounts of money and rise in national polls. His gains — and his history of insensitive remarks — put a huge target on his back this week in Nevada, where candidate after candidate took aim at him.

Mr. Sanders has been particularly direct with his criticism, and he and Ms. Warren have accused Mr. Bloomberg of trying to buy the election. This week, Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign punched back, comparing Mr. Sanders’s campaign tactics unfavorably to those used by President Trump.

Mr. Bloomberg, seeking to catch up to candidates who have been releasing plans for months, announced five this week, including one to restore Obama-era financial regulations and rein in the same industry where he made his tens of billions.

His Wall Street plan would impose a 0.1 percent tax on stock sales and other financial transactions — a proposal also supported by Ms. Warren, Mr. Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the left, in a very rare alignment for Mr. Bloomberg. (Mr. Buttigieg also supports such a tax.)

It would also reverse much of the Trump administration’s deregulation and establish a team within the Justice Department to push prosecutors “to pursue individuals, not only corporations, for infractions.”

  • Mr. Buttigieg released a plan to protect public lands, proposing to ban new fossil fuel leases, increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and set a target of “protecting and restoring at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030.”

  • Ms. Warren announced an agenda for small businesses. Among many other things, it would create a $7 billion equity fund for people of color to start businesses, support small businesses and entrepreneurs with federal contracts, and establish a grant program to encourage states and cities “to cut unnecessary regulatory requirements and to help small business owners navigate necessary ones.”

  • In addition to his Wall Street proposal, Mr. Bloomberg released a criminal justice reform plan. That’s a big one for his campaign given how much of a liability his record on stop-and-frisk and other policing issues are. The plan — parts of which he announced in December — calls for a higher standard for using force, an end to cash bail and mandatory minimums, and $100 million a year in funding for the Obama-era My Brother’s Keeper program.

  • Mr. Bloomberg also released plans on labor rights, retirement and higher education. In them, he endorsed a number of proposals that he opposed as mayor but that have now become standard among Democrats, such as raising the minimum wage to $15.

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