LAS VEGAS (NBC News) – The ninth Democratic presidential debate kicked off Wednesday night in Las Vegas, with five veteran debaters and one newcomer facing off on the stage.
This is the first debate for billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who only met the polling qualifications on Tuesday. He’ll go head to head with several top contenders vying for primacy in the critical early nominating contests.
The candidates came out swinging in the debate with the newcomer on the stage, Bloomberg taking some of the strongest shots.
“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,” said candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“The fact of the matter is, he has not managed his city very, very well when he was there,” said candidate and former Vice President, Joe Biden.
“Mr. Bloomberg had policies in New York City of stop and frisk, which went after African-American and Latino people in an outrageous way,” argued candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Bloomberg defended himself saying, “I know how to take on an arrogant con man like Donald Trump, that comes from New York.”
The debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and The Nevada Independent, put pressure on Bernie Sanders to defend his position as a leading candidate in the run-up to Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday, while moderates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar — and now Bloomberg — looked to widen their bases, and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren sought a boost after failing to meet early expectations.
But often, the debate seemed to be unmanageable with the swings getting broader and the fight getting bolder.
“Are you saying i’m dumb.. are you mocking me Pete?” questioned candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
“Mayor Buttigieg has a slogan thought up by consultants to paper over thin version that would leave millions unable to afford health care,” said Sen. Warren.
“We have to wake up as a party. The only candidates left standing will be Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg,” argued candidate Pete Buttigieg.
The discussion touched on the usual debate staples including health care, education and the economy.
But what echoed the most from the stage was the tone and tenor of the debate, more pointed and more intense than any of the eight before.