Advertisement

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption to the lives of everyone in Tampa Bay and to so many businesses in our community. Here at the Tampa Bay Times, we continue to provide free, up-to-date information at tampabay.com/coronavirus as a public service. But we need your help. Please consider supporting us by subscribing or donating, and by sharing our work. Thank you.

  1. News
  2. /
  3. Florida Politics
  4. /
  5. The Buzz

Is this the Mike Bloomberg debate? What Floridians need to know for tonight.

The billionaire ex-mayor of New York City has pumped over $327 million into TV, radio and digital advertising throughout the country and at least $29.5 million into Florida alone.
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) [DAVID J. PHILLIP | AP]

Can a billionaire really buy votes through an advertising blitz without stepping foot on a debate stage?

Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg has done it for months, surging to second in some national polls. He’s also spent roughly $327 million in advertisements nationwide and has opened up campaign offices throughout the country, including 10 in Florida (with more on the way).

Now, with the next Democratic debate slated for Wednesday night in Las Vegas at 9 p.m., a majority of Americans will get to see Bloomberg the person for the first time — not the advertisement.

Related: How similar are Trump and Bloomberg? Take our quote quiz.

What he’ll look like on stage, where he’s sure to face fire from all sides, may be the biggest question mark. Bloomberg, now 78, last participated in a debate in 2009 while running for a third term as mayor of New York City as an independent. He’s now running for president as a moderate alternative to a flailing Joe Biden campaign.

Archived video from his last political debate shows a mild-mannered man who appears to be prepared for each attack his opponent — former New York City comptroller Bill Thompson — throws at him. Bloomberg never waved his hands high the air, rarely cracked a smile and didn’t raise his voice once, but his attacks were still pointed. You can watch the whole debate here.

He may need to be prepared for multiple attacks on Wednesday night.

Bloomberg’s past comments about minorities and crime have resurfaced in recent weeks, with little response from his campaign. Now he’ll have to answer questions to these issues on the spot— such as his past policy on stop and frisking in New York City while mayor. His net worth of $62 billion will also likely be questioned by his fellow candidates, who’ve spent hundreds of millions less on advertising and have had year-long, grass-roots campaigns.

Despite the controversies of late, endorsements for Bloomberg have continued to flow in. In Florida alone, he’s already been endorsed by former Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn and by former Democratic candidate for governor Alex Sink.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders is already poised to continue his success from Iowa and New Hampshire into Nevada. Behind Bloomberg, he’ll likely receive his fair share of attacks, just as other candidates have on the debate stage while they’ve surged in the polls.

Who else will be on stage?

Candidates had to have won at least one delegate or managed 10% in four polls or 12% in two early-state polls in order to qualify for Wednesday night’s debate.

Here are those who qualified:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City

Pre-debate reading

Florida Democrats, don’t mail that presidential primary ballot yet | Editorial

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections worker Andrea West adds mail ballots to an inserter Sept. 22 at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Service Center in Largo. Workers are preparing to mail 260,000 vote by mail kits for the November General Election. (SCOTT KEELER | Times)

More than a million Florida Democrats have been sent their mail ballots for the March 17 presidential primary, but they should let those ballots sit on the hall table or the kitchen counter for a bit.

The race for the Democratic nomination is too fluid for Florida Democrats to pick a candidate now who may not be competitive by Election Day. They should not waste their votes, and they should keep their eye on the goal: Backing the candidate who has the best shot at beating President Donald Trump in November.

Read the whole editorial here.

Bloomberg warns Florida Democrats: A vote for Biden helps Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg poses for photographs with supporters during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) [DAVID J. PHILLIP | AP]

Wednesday night will not just be America’s first real look at Bloomberg — it’ll be the first opportunity for the other Democratic presidential hopefuls to take their shots at the multi-billionaire for the first time. Especially inclined to come after Bloomberg may be front-runner Sen. Sanders.

Bloomberg’s campaign said on Tuesday that the 2020 presidential race is essentially down to three candidates — and that voting for any Democrat other than the former New York mayor increases the chances that a self-described democratic socialist will win the nomination. That, in turn, exponentially increases the chances of there being four more years of Donald Trump, the official said.

Read the full story here.

Another moderate Florida Democrat is endorsing Michael Bloomberg for president

For Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is endorsing Michael Bloomberg in the Democratic primary for president. [Times File Photo]

Ever since he entered the race, Bloomberg has won over a handful of prominent Florida Democrats unmoved by the party’s slate of 2020 contenders. And now he has another one in his corner: Alex Sink.

Sink, the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor in 2010, is endorsing the former New York mayor today, his campaign will formally announce later this morning. Sink called Bloomberg “the best candidate to win back America and restore honor to the presidency.”

Read the full story here.

PolitiFact: Elizabeth Warren largely right about rivals’ reliance on super PACs

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a "Care In Action" campaign rally, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Matt York) [MATT YORK | AP]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren took a shot at other candidates and out-of-control campaign spending during the debate before the New Hampshire primary.

“Everyone on this stage except Amy (Klobuchar) and me is either a billionaire or is receiving help from PACs that can do unlimited spending,” said Warren, D-Mass., Feb. 7. The question of who is funding the Democratic candidates is a longtime issue for Democratic primary voters. Warren’s assertion distanced her from billionaire candidates and from candidacies aided by donors who can give unlimited amounts.

Read the full story here.

Not done yet, Joe Biden announces Florida push

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at a campaign event at Harbor Palace Seafood Restaurant in the Chinatown neighborhood of Las Vegas, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) [PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP]

Forget about New Hampshire. Joe Biden wants to talk about Florida.

Following a fifth-place finish in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, the former vice president’s campaign moved quickly Wednesday to announce the launch of several grassroots coalitions in Florida — a state where he leads in the polls thanks in large part to his standing with Hispanic and black voters.

Read the whole story here.

Bernie Sanders giving some Florida Democrats heart burn

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt., smiles during his campaign event in Carson City, Nev., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) [RICH PEDRONCELLI | AP]

Down-ballot Democrats are beginning to “Feel the Bern” in Florida — and it’s causing a bit of discomfort.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ strong showing in the Iowa caucuses and his polling lead heading into today’s first-in-the-nation primary are creating anxiety among Democrats who fear that having a self-described “democratic socialist” at the top of the ticket would hurt candidates in state and federal races.

Read the full story here.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement