Tonight’s installment of seemingly infinite Democratic debates features a new, never-before-seen-in-this-context candidate: Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s former mayor and an alleged serial harasser of women. Welcoming him to the stage, Elizabeth Warren wasted no time utterly eviscerating her opponent.
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against,” she kicked off, “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. Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women, and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop and frisk.”
These were just Warren’s opening remarks, and while they are very spicy, they should not surprise anyone: Heading into the evening, the Massachusetts senator called Bloomberg an “egomaniac billionaire” who’d unfortunately been allowed to “buy his way into the debate.” On Wednesday night, she emphasized that she will “support whoever the Democratic nominee is” in the end, with a big but. “Understand this,” Warren said. “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”
On stop and frisk
Warren kept the rapport punishing when Bloomberg stated that he felt “embarrassed about … how it turned out with stop and frisk,” a policing-by-racial-profiling policy he deployed during his time as mayor. Warren did not feel satisfied with that response.
“This isn’t about how it turned out,” she said. “This is about what [stop and frisk] was designed to do to begin with. It targeted communities of color. It targeted black and brown men from the beginning.”
“If you want to issue a real apology, then the apology has to start with the intent of the plan as it was put together and the willful ignorance, day by day by day, of admitting what was happening, even as people protested in your own streets — shutting out the sounds of people telling you how your own policy was breaking their lives,” she continued. “You need a different apology here, Mr. Mayor.”
On nondisclosure agreements
Later, after Bloomberg flounderingly tried to defend himself for his alleged sexism and workplace harassment, Warren hit back. “I hope you heard what his defense was: ‘I’ve been nice to some women.’ That just doesn’t cut it.”
She then brought up the nondisclosure agreements Bloomberg’s company allegedly foisted on women bringing sexual harassment complaints. “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. Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?” she demanded, to loud applause.
When Bloomberg insisted that his company had “very few” NDAs, she cut in: “How many?”
“Maybe they didn’t like a joke I told …” he offered, resulting in jeers from the crowd.
“I just want to be clear: Some is how many?” she responded. Bloomberg failed to answer.
“Women are being muzzled by you. And you could release them immediately,” she continued. “We’re not going to defeat Donald Trump with a man who has who knows how many nondisclosure agreements and the drip, drip, drip of women saying they’ve been harassed.”