Las Vegas, Nev. (CBS News) – Six Democratic Presidential hopefuls faced off on the debate stage in Nevada, but all eyes were on the newcomer – billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. His late entry is shaking up an already unpredictable race for the nomination. And it made for some lively conversation on stage.
Billionaire businessman Mike Bloomberg got in the debate ring in Las Vegas Wednesday night and quickly took heat from his rivals, including Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Democrats take a huge risk if we substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,” said Warren.
Bloomberg is spending $415 million of his own money, running ads in Super Tuesday states in a campaign directed squarely at Donald Trump, not the other Democratic competitors. “I’m spending money to get rid of the worst president we have ever had,” said Bloomberg.
The former New York City Mayor also faced questions about his record running the Big Apple. Senator Bernie Sanders among those posing questions. “Mr bloomberg had policies….of stop and frisk which went after African and Latino people in an outrageous way. That is not a way you’re gonna grow voter turnout,” said Sanders. “The policy was abhorrent and it was a violation of every right people have.”
There were also accusations about sexist remarks against Bloomberg. “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 Warren.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar went after the mayor to release his tax returns, “Everyone has released their tax returns, Mayor and I think it is a major issue because the POTUS has been hiding behind his tax returns.”
Bloomberg’s rise threatens his more moderate opponents like Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. The former South Bend mayor swung at both Bloomberg and his closest rival in the first two nominating contests, Senator Bernie Sanders.
“We shouldn’t have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out,” said Buttigieg
Bloomberg isn’t on the ballot at this Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, but he has double-digit support in national polls and will appear in next week’s debate.
The Nevada Democratic Party said a total of almost 75,000 Nevadans have turned out to participate in early voting.