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'I know how to take on an arrogant con man like Donald Trump': Michael Bloomberg


WASHINGTON: In his maiden appearance on a Democratic presidential primary debate, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg tore into Donald Trump, saying he is the best candidate to defeat "an arrogant con man" and the "worst president ever".

The five other Democratic presidential aspirants opened Wednesday's Democratic debate in Las Vegas by piling quickly onto Bloomberg, with Senator Elizabeth Warren describing him as a misogynist who has promoted racist policies.

"I think we have two questions to face tonight. One is, who can beat Donald Trump? And, number two, who can do the job if they get into the White House? And I would argue that I am the candidate that can do exactly both of those things," Bloomberg said.

"I'm a New Yorker. I know how to take on an arrogant con man like Donald Trump, that comes from New York. I'm a mayor or was a mayor. I know how to run a complicated city, the biggest, most diverse city in this country," he said.

Bloomberg, 78, a well-known philanthropist who also has a global news outlet by the same name, quickly became center of the Wednesday night's debate.

He has spent millions of dollars from his own pocket in the race so far.

"I'm a manager. I knew what to do after 9/11 and brought the city back stronger than ever. And I'm a philanthropist who didn't inherit his money but made his money. And I'm spending that money to get rid of Donald Trump, the worst president we have ever had.

And if I can get that done, it will be a great contribution to America and to my kids," he said in his opening remarks.

Bloomberg asserted that Senator Bernie Sanders did not have any chance whatsoever of beating Trump.

"You don't start out by saying I've got 160 million people I'm going to take away the insurance plan that they love. That's just not a way that you go and start building the coalition that the Sanders camp thinks that they can do. I don't think there's any chance whatsoever.

"And if he goes and is the candidate, we will have Donald Trump for another four years. And we can't stand that," he said.

Sanders in response to a question said in order to beat Trump, there was a need to have the largest voter turnout in the history of the United States.

"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," he said.

Massachusetts Senator Warren said the Democrats will take a big risk if they just substituted "one arrogant billionaire for another."

"I'd like to talk about who we're running against, 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.

Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women, and of supporting racist polls like redlining and stop and frisk," Warren said.

Welcoming Bloomberg to the debate stage, Senator Amy Klobuchar said the former mayor should not be hiding behind his TV ads.

"And so I was all ready for this big day. And then I looked at the memo from his campaign staff this morning, and it said that he actually thought that three of us should get out of the way.

"That is what his campaign said because we should pave the way for him to become the nominee," she said.

Darkhorse Pete Buttigieg said that both Sanders and Bloomberg were the two most polarising figures on the stage.

"Most Americans don't see where they fit if they've got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power," he said.

"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. We can do better," Buttigieg said.

Bloomberg is worth more than USD 64 billion, according to Forbes, towering over Trump's USD 3.1 billion net worth.

The former mayor has also come under fire for pouring millions of his own money into his campaign, leading to charges he effectively bought his spot in the presidential race and on the debate stage.

His past comments about women and his support of policies such as stop-and-frisk and red-lining have also made him a target of his Democratic competitors.

Wednesday's debate is the last before Saturday's Nevada caucuses.