Billionaire businessman Mike Bloomberg’s young presidential campaign took a hit Wednesday night when his opponents pressed him about stop and frisk during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas.
The former mayor of New York was pressed about his expansion of the controversial stop-and-frisk policing policy during his tenure and how it affected his constituents. It all started when one moderator, NBC News anchor Lester Holt, asked Bloomberg about his defense of stop and frisk in during a speech in 2015.
The mayor said “male, minorities, 16-25” commit the most crime in major cities. He also claimed he “put all the cops in minority neighborhoods” because “that’s where all the crime is.”
“What does that kind of language say about how you view people of color or people in minority neighborhoods?” Holt asked.
“The one thing that I’m really worried about, embarrassed about, is how it turned out with stop and frisk,” Bloomberg responded. “What happened was it got out of control.”
He also claimed he “cut 95 percent of it out” after realizing too many people were being stopped. Former Vice President Joe Biden interjected to remind Bloomberg stop-and-frisk didn’t slow down until the Obama administration intervened via a court order.
“It’s not whether he apologized or not, it’s the policy. And the policy was abhorrent,” Biden stated.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the current front-runner among the remaining Democratic candidates, also criticized Bloomberg during the debate and doubted his ability to mobilize voters.
“In order to beat Donald Trump, we’re going to need the largest voter turnout in the history of the United States,” Sanders said. “Mr. Bloomberg had policies in New York City of stop-and-frisk, which went after African-American and Latino people in an outrageous way. That is not a way you’re going to grow voter turnout.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren came in with the kill shot when she criticized the wording of Bloomberg’s apology to assembled congregants at a Black church in New York last November.
“The language he used isn’t about stop-and-frisk, it’s about how it turned out,” she said. “This isn’t about how it turned out, this is about what it was designed to do. It targeted Black and Brown men from the beginning.”
During another segment in the debate, Warren admitted that if she does not become the Democratic nominee she would support the eventual winner, but she warned the Democratic party will lose “if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women, and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop-and-frisk.”
“Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,” Warren concluded.
Bloomberg tried to defend himself by mentioning the other candidates’ criminal justice-related missteps.
“If we took off everybody that was wrong on this panel, everybody that was wrong on criminal justice at sometime in their careers, there’d be nobody else up here,” Bloomberg said.
Afterward, social media was flooded with reactions to Bloomberg’s dragging.
Even Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg’s successor as mayor, added his two cents.
“I’m a New Yorker, I’m a mayor and I know I’ve been cleaning up Michael Bloomberg’s mess for six years,” de Blasio tweeted. “We ended the era of stop and frisk — and guess what? Crime went DOWN.”
Following the debate, Warren’s campaign announced she raised more than $2.8 million last night, Vox reported. She needs this momentum after finishing in fourth place in the New Hampshire primary. Bernie Sanders maintains a strong lead, with a RealClearPolitics poll placing him 10 points ahead of his rivals.