The latest Democratic debate in Las Vegas was definitely the point at which all the candidates were starting to reek of desperation. In earlier debates, candidates mostly played nice except for a few jabs here and there. But in Las Vegas, the candidates went all-in and virtually every time they spoke they used their time to take at least one jab and someone else on stage. They know the culling is coming soon and there is little time left to place themselves in the lead.
But one notable exception was Mike Bloomberg. He seemed to have fought pretty hard just to get himself on the stage in the first place, which in retrospect may have been the wrong choice considering how things went.
Bloomberg seemed to have almost no prepared responses for any of the well known attacks he knew he was going to endure. First and foremost was his answer for his stop and frisk policy while mayor of New York. He had to have known this question was coming and although he did seem to have a slightly prepared response, it was so full of stammers and poorly chosen words that I doubt he even practiced the delivery more than once. But things only got worse from there as for almost every other question he was asked he seemed to be just winging it.
Things got bad for Bloomberg when the moderators asked him about a history of sexual harassment accusations, both aimed at him and at his company as a whole. Unlike the first question about stop and frisk, Bloomberg appeared to have no prepared response at all, and instead appeared to just ramble off some poorly articulated stats about how many women his company has hired and the fact that they are paid just as much as men. Elizabeth Warren was quick to seize on Bloomberg’s rambling answer, challenging him to release the women accusing him and his company from their signed settlement NDAs. It was by far Bloomberg’s worst moment in the debate as he totally let Warren take control of the questioning.
So the real question is, if Bloomberg fought so hard to be included in the debate, why didn’t he bother to prepare for the obvious questions that were coming his way? The fact that he didn’t prepare at all suggest that maybe he’s not worried about debate performances and figures his money will overcome any obstacle by simply buying more television and YouTube advertisements.
There was no question going into the debate that Bloomberg is not a great debater. So expectations were pretty low to begin with. But even with low expectations one would expect Bloomberg to be prepared. But he wasn’t ready for almost every question presented to him, and his only score of the night seemed to be an improvised line where he attacked Bernie Sanders for being a millionaire socialist with three houses.
Bloomberg isn’t a dumb guy, he’s obviously very bright and a hard worker, his company’s success is proof of that. So that’s what makes his poor preparation so puzzling. If I had to guess there are really only two reasons for his lack of preparation. The first being he doesn’t really think the debates are going to be that big of a deal in the long run. He’s not on the ballot really until super-Tuesday, so maybe he feels it doesn’t matter if he performs poorly this far out. The second possibility is that he’s not taking this all that seriously and that his run is meant to either serve a different purpose, or perhaps he thinks or knows the fix is in and the DNC will hand him the nomination like they did for Clinton in 2016.
Either way, Bloomberg’s lack of any preparation should have pundits scratching their heads and realizing something is not right with Democratic primaries, and when the nomination does finally come, it’s sure to arrive with plenty of controversy.
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