Sparks flew during the ninth Democratic presidential debate, with five veteran debaters and one newcomer facing off on stage on Wednesday.
Wednesday's debate was the first for billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who took considerable heat from the other candidates on stage over his treatment of women and defense of stop and frisk.
The debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and The Nevada Independent, put pressure on Bernie Sanders to defend his position as a leading candidate in the run-up to Nevada's caucuses on Saturday, while moderates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar — and now Bloomberg — looked to widen their bases, and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren sought a boost after failing to meet early expectations.
Highlights from the Las Vegas Democratic debate:
- Who won the Democratic debate in Las Vegas?
- ANALYSIS: Finally, the fight Democrats have been waiting for.
- Debate rivals hammer Bloomberg over 'stop and frisk' policing in NYC.
- Warren comes out swinging and lands several punches.
Fact check: Did the health care industry make $100 billion in profits?
Sanders said Wednesday night that "the health care industry made $100 billion in profits."
"Somehow or another, Canada can provide universal health care to all their people," he said. "U.K. can do it, France can do it, Germany could, all of Europe can do it. Gee whiz. Somehow or another, we are the only major country on Earth that can't do it. Why is that?"
In the context of health insurance, Sanders' characterization of profits is an exaggeration. The health insurance industry earned $23.4 billion in 2018, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The industry earned $16.1 billion in 2017.
However, a survey of some of the country's hospitals reported $91 billion of operating revenue in 2016, according to a 2017 Deloitte survey. Meanwhile two of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer and Roche — reported $12.69 billion and $14.1 billion respectively for fiscal year 2019.
Bloomberg hits Sanders over his critiques of wealth inequality
The slip away from civility continued tonight as Bloomberg hit back at Sanders over his plan to restructure the American economy and tackle wealth inequality in part by giving workers more say in the companies where they work.
"Mr. Bloomberg, maybe it wasn't you that made all that money. Maybe your workers played some role in that, as well," Sanders said.
Bloomberg shot back: "I can't think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation. This is ridiculous."
He added: "We're not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that, the other countries tried that — it was called communism — and it just didn't work.”
Debate watch Las Vegas: Environmental groups quiet down for climate change answers
LAS VEGAS — When the topic switched to climate change and the environment, the room grew quiet at the banquet hall here, as those at this debate watch party honed in on candidates' responses.
Tonight’s party was hosted by the Nevada Conservation League and Chispa Nevada, an environmental group that advocates for Latino communities.
The biggest applause and cheers here came when Warren declared, “We cannot continue to allow our public lands to be used for profit.”
This is who's attacking Bloomberg the most
Mike Bloomberg emerged early in the debate as a candidate worthy of piling on. Since then, every other candidate has taken a shot, two shots, four shots, 10 shots at the former New York mayor.
An hour and thirty minutes into the debate, Bloomberg had been attacked 42 times.
This is what the attack tracker looks like:
And here's how the per-candidate attacks on Bloomberg are shaking out. Follow along our debate-night candidate attack tracker here.
Warren takes big swings at her opponents after losing New Hampshire, Iowa
Warren came ready to pick a fight at Wednesday’s debate, a week after she finished fourth in the New Hampshire primary. The primary was a tough loss for the New England politician who once led polls there. That, along with questions from pundits about her campaign's longevity, appears to have enlivened the progressive Democrat, who took more than a few swipes at her opponents.
So far she has taken particular aim at Bloomberg for his past comments about women and for having female employees sign nondisclosure agreements, but she hasn’t stopped there. Known as the candidate with a plan for seemingly everything, Warren provided policy specifics on her own health care plan, while pointing to what she deemed to be lackluster offerings of her opponents.
It remains to be seen if it’s too little too late for Warren ahead of Nevada where she has dipped in the polls and early voting has already started or if her big swings will push her to a big win in the Silver State’s caucuses on Saturday.
Warren makes a splash on Twitter
Warren is on the warpath — and Twitter is taking notice. She’s had the most tweets that mention her name, with Bloomberg in second.
Warren camp touts mid-debate fundraising
Global warming cools the debate
Maybe it was the commercial break, but a question about what the candidates would do to address climate change has yielded a less contentious stretch. Biden, Bloomberg, Warren, Klobuchar and Sanders all tout their plans.
Bloomberg gets what might be his first applause line by saying on Day 1 as president he would rejoin the Paris Agreement.
Debate watch Houston: Sanders supporters welcome the criticism
HOUSTON — Manny Lara, 24, an IT specialist, batted his hand at the screen and scoffed as Buttigieg launched yet another attack against Sanders, this time over his refusal to release his complete medical records.
“This is just gross,” said Lara, a Sanders supporter who is among more than 50 people watching the debate from the patio of a popular Houston bar.
“No man, this is good,” Jared Cress, Lara’s friend and co-worker, said. “They’re going after Bernie cause they know what’s up. They’re afraid.”
Sanders supporters here have booed or laughed with each of the attacks launched against their candidate tonight. This, said Cress, 25, is the strongest indication yet that — unlike in 2016 — their guy is the one to beat.
“Let them attack him,” Cress said. “It means he’s winning.”
Klobuchar-Buttigieg feud comes to Mexico
Buttigieg, who is fluent in Spanish, criticized Amy Klobuchar for being unable to name Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a Telemundo interview last week. Klobuchar said her slip was momentary forgetfulness that doesn’t reflect what she knows about Mexico.
She added greetings to Mexico’s president, stumbling some as she tried to pronounce López. But Buttigieg responded that it’s something she should know as a member of a committee that oversees trade — Klobuchar serves on the Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee. Klobuchar wouldn’t give, asking Buttigieg, “are you trying to say that I’m dumb?”
Buttigieg previously had his own troubles with discussions on Mexico when he said last November that he’d be willing to send troops into Mexico to combat gang and drug violence.
The two Midwesterners have developed something of a rivalry in recent debates.
Warren then cut in to defend Klobuchar by saying that "everybody on this stage" forgets a name sometimes.