//Sanders, at Dem debate, faces unprecedented scrutiny from struggling rivals

Sanders, at Dem debate, faces unprecedented scrutiny from struggling rivals

Bernie Sanders confronted fast criticism in Tuesday evening’s Democratic debate, because the self-described democratic socialist for the primary time is taken into account the race’s undisputed frontrunner — whilst he has rankled a number of members of his personal occasion with some head-turning feedback on communism in Cuba.

Seconds into the occasion, Sanders downplayed historic-low unemployment numbers by saying the economic system was solely going effectively for “individuals like” former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg — prompting Bloomberg to shortly convey up recent reports that Russia is working to assist Sanders’ marketing campaign.

“I believe that Donald Trump thinks it could be higher if he is president — I don’t suppose so,” Bloomberg mentioned. “Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump needs to be president of america. And that is why Russia helps you get elected, so you may lose to him.”

Sanders shot again by referencing Bloomberg’s support for Chinese language President President Xi Jinping.

Additonally, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar hit Sanders’ proposed expenditures, saying “the maths doesn’t add up — in reality, simply on ’60 Minutes’ this weekend, he mentioned he wasn’t gonna rattle by means of the ‘nickels and dimes.’ Properly, let me let you know what number of nickels and dimes we’re speaking about. Almost $60 trillion {dollars}. Are you aware how a lot that’s, for all of his applications? That is 3 times the American economic system. Not the federal authorities. All the economic system.”

“I am listening to my identify talked about just a little bit tonight — I ponder why,” Sanders quipped at one level, after Pete Buttigieg, the previous mayor of South Bend, Indiana, took him on as effectively.

“I am listening to my identify talked about just a little bit tonight — I ponder why.”

— Bernie Sanders

Buttigieg individually challenged Bloomberg over his previous stop-and-frisk coverage, earlier than using intersectionalist rhetoric: “There’s seven white individuals on this stage speaking about racial justice,” none of whom have the “lived expertise” of feeling bigotry of their day-to-day life, he mentioned.

The flareups got here after a day of simmering tensions. With the notable exception of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the entire different outstanding candidates debating in South Carolina savaged Sanders within the hours main as much as the eight p.m. EST affair. Tuesday’s discussion board comes simply 4 days earlier than South Carolina’s first-in-the-South major and one week earlier than greater than a dozen states vote on Super Tuesday.

Through the debate, Warren once more targeted closely on Bloomberg and averted going after Sanders.

“In 2012, [Bloomberg] scooped in to attempt to defend one other Republican senator in opposition to a girl challenger,” Warren mentioned. “That was me. It did not work, however he tried laborious. I do not care how a lot cash Mayor Bloomberg has, the core of the Democratic Social gathering won’t ever belief him.”

Warren later repeated her disputed story that she misplaced her instructing job due to her being pregnant — a declare that contradicted Warren’s own previous statements on the matter, and which conservatives have mentioned is an obvious fabrication.

“A minimum of I did not have a boss who mentioned to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way in which Mr. Bloomberg is alleged to have mentioned to one in all his pregnant workers.”

As boos broke out within the debate corridor, Bloomberg replied, “Oh, come on. I by no means mentioned that. And for the report, if she was a trainer in New York Metropolis, she would have by no means had that downside.”

Bloomberg, questioned later about his nondisclosure agreements with girls, mentioned he was “most likely fallacious to make the jokes” that led to the agreements, though he could not keep in mind the particular feedback.

“If it bothered them, I used to be fallacious, and I apologize for that,” Bloomberg mentioned. “However what’s occurred right here is we went again 40 years and we might solely discover three circumstances the place girls mentioned they have been uncomfortable.”

Forward of the controversy, former Vice President Joe Biden accused Sanders of making an attempt to undermine President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection. Buttigieg highlighted Sanders’ name for a government-financed well being care system for instance of his “polarization.”

Former Bloomberg and his surrogates have been particularly aggressive — with Bloomberg senior advisor Tim O’Brien even bringing up Sanders’ past writings on rape fantasies dwell on CNN. (Bloomberg, who has begun spending on a massive media blitz in opposition to Sanders, spent further time getting ready for the showdown after a weak performance in final week’s debate.)

Sanders additionally drew renewed fireplace for doubling down on comments praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s “literacy program,” saying it was a constructive final result from the violent Cuban Revolution that literacy charges shortly rose.

“We’re very clear within the Democratic occasion that we communicate out in opposition to brutal dictatorships like Castro,” Democratic Nationwide Committee (DNC) spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa informed Fox Information earlier Tuesday, earlier than encouraging candidates like Sanders to go to Florida and communicate with Cuban refugees. Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell was extra direct.

“As the primary South American immigrant member of Congress who proudly represents hundreds of Cuban Individuals, I discover Senator Bernie Sanders’ feedback on Castro’s Cuba completely unacceptable,” Mucarsel-Powell wrote on Twitter. “The Castro regime murdered and jailed dissidents, and precipitated unspeakable hurt to too many South Florida households. To this present day, it stays an authoritarian regime that oppresses its individuals, subverts the free press, and stifles a free society.”

From left, Democratic presidential candidates former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, watches as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talk before a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

From left, Democratic presidential candidates former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, watches as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speak earlier than a Democratic presidential major debate on the Gaillard Middle, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS Information and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photograph/Patrick Semansky)


Different have highlighted Sanders’ earlier remarks that were highly critical of immigration: “If poverty is rising, and wages are happening, I do not know why we’d like thousands and thousands of individuals coming into this nation as visitor employees,” Sanders had informed CNN years in the past.

5 Bloomberg supporters, all present or former black elected officers, blasted Sanders’ report on gun management in addition to different priorities for the black neighborhood on Tuesday.

“Too often, Bernie Sanders has been on the wrong side of history, missing in action or unable to make progress on virtually every issue for black voters,” New York Rep. Gregory Meeks informed reporters, predicting that viewers would “see a 180-degree shift tonight” from Bloomberg after his lackluster displaying in final week’s Democratic debate.

The stage is set for a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The stage is ready for a Democratic presidential major debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photograph/Matt Rourke)

The brand new wave of infighting got here as Democrats have been set to fulfill for the occasion’s 10th — and maybe most consequential — debate of the 2020 major season. Bloomberg was the main target final week for his extremely anticipated debut, however now the knives are out for the 78-year-old Vermont senator.


The evening marks a significant second in Sanders’ political profession. After spending a long time as an out of doors agitator accustomed to attacking the occasion institution, he is immediately the one on protection because the Democratic institution fears he might construct an insurmountable delegate lead as quickly as subsequent week.

Solely Warren has resisted attacking Sanders, her ideological ally. The Massachusetts senator has as an alternative skilled her deal with Bloomberg, whom she savaged final week on the controversy stage and on the marketing campaign path main as much as Tuesday’s assembly.

Additionally an element: Billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who has borrowed closely from his private fortune to gasoline a powerful push in South Carolina, the place he is threatening to peel away a few of Biden’s assist with state’s black voters. Rivals Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are additionally combating to win over moderates whereas decrying Sanders’ chief coverage priorities.

Sanders’ dealing with of the stress might be essential in figuring out whether or not he stays on the high of the Democratic pack. Throughout a city corridor Monday evening televised on CNN, Sanders mentioned he anticipated the assaults. However he nonetheless appeared to be adjusting to his new standing.“It is a little funny to find myself as the so-called front-runner,” he mentioned.


Biden is trying to make an enormous impression in South Carolina, the place he was lengthy seen because the unquestioned front-runner due to his assist from black voters.

Campaigning within the state the day earlier than the controversy, he predicted he would win “by plenty” on Saturday

The stage is set for a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The stage is ready for a Democratic presidential major debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photograph/Matt Rourke)

Having completed on high in three consecutive major contests — together with a tie in Iowa — Sanders is eyeing a knockout blow, nonetheless. He has shifted new workers into the state from Nevada, expanded his South Carolina promoting and added occasions to his schedule.

Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver mentioned there was an “air of desperation” to the contemporary assaults on his candidate.

“You’ve got candidates, you’ve got super PACs, all piling on to stop Bernie Sanders,” Weaver mentioned. “They know he has the momentum within the race.”


Sanders could profit most from the sheer variety of candidates nonetheless within the race. They’re nonetheless combating amongst themselves — and splitting up the anti-Sanders vote — to emerge because the strongest various to him.

Heading into the controversy, there was no signal that any of these candidates was near getting out.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who completed in a distant fifth or sixth place in Nevada over the weekend, introduced plans to launch a $4.2 million advert purchase throughout a number of Tremendous Tuesday states.

A professional-Warren tremendous PAC was additionally including tv promoting in seven Tremendous Tuesday states, together with Alabama, California, Minnesota and Virginia.


Sanders was additionally in a dispute with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a bunch comprised of Jewish Individuals which advocates for sturdy U.S.-Israel relations. Sanders mentioned he would skip the group’s convention and basically boycott the group as a result of he was involved concerning the occasion giving airtime to “leaders who categorical bigotry and oppose fundamental Palestinian rights.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, referred to as that characterization “offensive” and “irresponsible.”

Fox Information’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Related Press contributed to this report.