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As Bloomberg roils the race, fellow 2020 Democrats target him in debate

Wednesday night’s Las Vegas Democratic debate was the most contentious yet, as candidates who have been facing off for months took on debate newcomer Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire and former mayor of New York. Bloomberg has spent hundreds of millions of his own money on political ads but had yet to defend his policies -- and his record -- against attacks by his opponents. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Last night's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas was the most contentious matchup yet for the party's leading contenders.

    As Amna Nawaz reports, it all came at a critical moment in the campaign, with early voting under way in a dozen states, and just days to go before the start of the Nevada caucuses.

  • Michael Bloomberg:

    So how was your night last night?

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Michael Bloomberg campaigning today in Utah, just hours after his first Democratic debate appearance in Las Vegas, where he was the center of his rivals' attention.

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.:

    I think it is great you have got a lot of money, but I think you have got to come forward with your tax returns.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The billionaire businessman entered the race just three months ago, but his opponents made up for lost time, sharply challenging Bloomberg's record as a three-term mayor of New York City.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.:

    Mr. Bloomberg had policies in New York City of stop and frisk, which went after African-American and Latino people in an outrageous way.

  • Michael Bloomberg:

    If I go back and look at my time in office, the one thing that I'm really worried about, embarrassed about was how it turned out with stop and frisk.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    It's not whether he apologized or not. It's the policy. The policy was abhorrent.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren repeatedly questioned Bloomberg on allegations his company covered up reports of sexual misconduct.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.:

    So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Michael Bloomberg:

    We have a very few nondisclosure agreements.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

    How many is that?

  • Michael Bloomberg:

    Let me finish.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

    How many is that?

  • Michael Bloomberg:

    None of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn't like a joke I told, and let me just…

    (BOOING)

    And let me — these would be agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet, and that is up to them. They signed those agreements, and we will live with it.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Warren continued her attacks at a campaign stop today.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

    It was my job to make sure that America got a little closer look at Mayor Bloomberg, and came to understand that, of all the people standing on the stage, he is the riskiest one for the Democrats.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Last night, others, like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, confronted Bloomberg on his estimated $60 billion personal fortune.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders:

    Mike Bloomberg owns more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans. That's wrong. That's immoral.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-Democrat who is running as a moderate alternative to Sanders, pushed back.

  • Michael Bloomberg:

    What a wonderful country we have. The best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Sanders and Bloomberg are leading the field in the most recent "PBS NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll. But both were accused by former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of being too polarizing to win.

  • Pete Buttigieg:

    Let's put forward somebody who's actually a Democrat.

    (LAUGHTER)

    Look, 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.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Wednesday's debate was one of the last chances for trailing candidates to break through before Super Tuesday on March 3, when a third of all Democratic delegates are up for grabs.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    I'm the only one on this stage that has actually got anything done on health care.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Debate battle lines were drawn once again on health care.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

    It's not a plan. It's PowerPoint. And Amy's plan is even less. It is like a Post-it note: Insert plan here.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And on immigration, of particular interest in Nevada, where Latinos make up one in every five Democratic voters.

    Here's Mayor Buttigieg addressing Senator Klobuchar.

  • Pete Buttigieg:

    If you are going to run based on your record of voting in Washington, then you have to own those votes, especially when it comes to immigration.

    (APPLAUSE)

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar:

    I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete. You have memorized a bunch of talking points and a bunch of things, but I can tell you one thing.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    What the people of this country want, they want a leader that has the heart for the immigrants of this country. And that is me.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    At the end of a bruising night, a clear sign that no one is ready yet to hang up their gloves.

  • Chuck Todd:

    Yes or no, leading person with the delegates, should they be the nominee or not?

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    No. Let the process work its way out.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    If no candidate has the majority of delegates by convention-time in July, only Sanders said the delegate leader should become the nominee.

    After trading brutal blows in last night's debate, some of the candidates are back out today working the crowds, fighting for those last-minute caucus commitments, like Senator Elizabeth Warren here.

    The Democratic candidates will face off again in another debate next Tuesday in South Carolina — Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Thank you, Amna.

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