Bloomberg Postpones Town Hall, Plans to Challenge Sanders at Debate

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
February 24, 2020Updated: February 24, 2020

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed back his CNN town hall from Feb. 24 to Feb. 26, to better prepare for a Democratic presidential debate slated for Feb. 25.

Bloomberg’s campaign linked the move to the billionaire’s desire to confront Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“The country can’t afford to let Bernie Sanders skate by another debate without a focus on his extreme record,” Galia Slayen, the Bloomberg campaign’s national press secretary, said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“Mike is preparing for Tuesday’s crucial debate, and looks forward to taking part in CNN’s town hall on Wednesday.”

Bloomberg and Sanders, both 78, clashed at last week’s debate in Nevada. After Sanders said that billionaires are able to get by paying little in taxes, Bloomberg noted that the longtime federal lawmaker owns three homes.

“What a wonderful country we have,” Bloomberg said. “The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss?”

Sanders said one of his homes is in Washington, where he works as a senator, and another is in Vermont. The third, he said, is “a summer camp.”

“Where is your home? Which tax haven is your home?” Sanders asked Bloomberg.

The former mayor said he lives in New York City and pays all of his taxes. He added that as mayor, he raised taxes on city residents.

Epoch Times Photo
Democratic presidential candidates former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (L), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) listen as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Paris Las Vegas in Nevada on Feb. 19, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

After Bloomberg said he earned his money by working hard, Sanders jumped in, telling him: “Maybe it wasn’t you who made all that money. Maybe your workers played a part in that as well.”

The Feb. 25 debate in South Carolina will again feature Bloomberg and Sanders along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), 70; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), 59; former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 38; and former Vice President Joe Biden, 77.

Businessman Tom Steyer, who didn’t qualify for the last debate, will be back on the stage on Feb. 25.

South Carolina voters head to the polls on Feb. 29.

Sanders cemented himself as the Democratic front-runner over the weekend in Nevada.

Bloomberg hasn’t been on the ballots in the four early voting states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, but he has begun mixing it up with rivals after largely avoiding them since announcing his bid for the presidency late last year. The ex-mayor’s atypical approach includes focusing on the raft of states slated to vote on March 3, including California, Arkansas, and Illinois.

Bloomberg has poured hundreds of millions of his fortune into his campaign while Sanders, like most other candidates, has sought donations from supporters. Sanders campaign spokesman Faiz Shakir urged supporters to donate on Feb. 24, telling them that the last few days before Federal Election Committee deadlines often see a fundraising spike and “we count on that in our budgeting and planning.”

Bloomberg would have been blocked from the debates due to a requirement to have a certain number of donors, until the Democratic National Committee removed that requirement on Jan. 31, allowing Bloomberg to qualify for his first debate in Las Vegas on Feb. 19.