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AFP
February 18, 2020

Bloomberg faces increasing fire from fellow US Democrats

World

AFP
February 18, 2020

WASHINGTON: Democratic presidential candidates sharpened their attacks on billionaire rival Michael Bloomberg late on Sunday as moderates battled to elbow their way to the top of a crowded pack.

The former New York mayor -- who skipped the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary but has been trying to make up for it with huge spending on television ads -- has faced increasingly sharp criticism, much of it over past positions and comments being criticized as crude, racist or misogynistic.

"Voters are looking for a president who can lead us out of the days when it was just commonplace or accepted to have these kinds of sexist or discriminatory attitudes," Pete Buttigieg, the moderate former mayor from Indiana, said Sunday on Fox. "This is our chance to do something different."

And Senator Amy Klobuchar, another Democratic moderate who had an unexpectedly strong showing in New Hampshire, accused Bloomberg of using his onslaught of TV ads to "hide behind the airwaves."

The race for the Democratic nomination remains exceptionally unsettled after Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has edged to the front in the two first states, slightly ahead of Buttigieg but without a commanding lead.

Those early states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are small and predominantly white. The next two -- Nevada on February 22 and South Carolina a week later -- are far more diverse, as are the 14 states voting on "Super Tuesday," March 3, raising the possibility of a shakeup in the Democratic order.

Both Klobuchar and Buttigieg have struggled to draw strong support from African Americans, a key voting demographic. Asked about that, Klobuchar told ABC that "my name identification in states outside of the early few states was not that high, simply because I didn’t have the money like Bloomberg to run more ads."

South Carolina congressman James Clyburn, who is African American, said that while former vice president Joe Biden had been leading strongly in the state, with its large black population, both Buttigieg and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer were drawing ever-larger crowds, adding to the uncertainty.

"Steyer is doing an incredible job," he said on CNN’s State of the Union. In Nevada, a poll on Friday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal placed Sanders solidly in first, at 25 points, seven points ahead of Biden, but with four others knotted in a statistical tie for third: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Steyer, Buttigieg and Klobuchar.