Sen. Elizabeth Warren continued to remake herself as a combative debater in Tuesday’s Democratic face-off in Charleston, S.C., and once again her target was former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Within minutes of the start of the debate she had indicted Bloomberg for his past support of Republicans and his treatment of women at his private company — repeating an allegation that he once told a pregnant employee to have an abortion.
Warren’s assault began when she was asked why she considers Bloomberg the “riskiest” candidate for the Democratic nomination.
“Let’s think of it this way: We’re here in Charleston,” Warren said. “And you know who’s going to be in Charleston later this week is Donald Trump. He’s going to be here to raise money for his buddy, Sen. Lindsey Graham. Who funded Lindsey Graham’s campaign for reelection last time? It was Mayor Bloomberg.”
In 2014, Bloomberg donated $250,000 to the super-PAC supporting Graham.
“And that’s not the only right-wing senator Mayor Bloomberg has funded,” Warren continued. “In 2016, he dumped $12 million into the Pennsylvania Senate race to help reelect an anti-choice, right-wing Republican senator. And I just want to say, the woman challenger was terrific. She lost by a single point.”
That was Democrat Katie McGinty, who lost in her bid to unseat Sen. Pat Toomey. Toomey had broken with most of his party to support background checks for certain gun purchases. Gun control is one of Bloomberg’s signature issues.
“In 2012, he swooped in to try to defend another Republican senator against a woman challenger,” Warren continued. “That was me. It didn’t work.”
Bloomberg backed Sen. Scott Brown, who Warren ultimately unseated.
“I don’t care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has,” she added. “The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him.”
Bloomberg, who took office Jan. 1, 2002, said, “I have been training for this job since I stepped in the pile, still smoldering, on 9/11. I know what to do. I’ve shown I know how to run a country. I’ve run the city, which is almost the same size — bigger than most countries in the world. I am the one choice that makes some sense. I have the experience. I have the resources and I have the record. And all of the sideshows the senator wants to bring up have nothing to do with that.”
Warren objected to Bloomberg’s use of “sideshow” to describe her criticisms.
“This is personal for me,” she said. “When I was 21 years old, I got my first job as a special education teacher. I loved that job. And by the end of the first year I was visibly pregnant. The principal wished me luck and gave my job to someone else.
“I packed up my stuff and I went home,” she said. “At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘Kill it.’”
“I never said that,” Bloomberg snapped. “Oh come on.”
As she did in the last Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Warren said voters should be able to hear from all of the women who signed nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, about their allegations of discrimination against Bloomberg or his company.
At that debate, Bloomberg acknowledged that “we have a very few nondisclosure agreements,” claiming that “none of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told.”
On Tuesday, Bloomberg was asked if the women took his jokes wrong or if he was wrong to make them.
“Probably wrong to make the jokes,” he said. “I don’t remember what they were, but I assume if it bothered them I was wrong. I apologize. I’m sorry for that.”
Following the first debate, Bloomberg said the company identified and agreed to release three women from their NDAs, and said it would not use such agreements going forward.
Warren said that wasn’t good enough, and asked that all women with discrimination claims be released from their NDAs.
“The trouble with this, senator, is enough is never enough,” Bloomberg said. “We cannot continue to re-litigate this every time. We did what she asked. And thank you, we probably made the world better because of it.”
The Warren campaign wasted no time in attempting to capitalize on the exchange, offering a t-shirt emblazoned with Bloomberg’s “Enough Is Never Enough” quote in its online store.
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