Democrats at debate criticize the candidate who isn't there: Mike Bloomberg

Democrats at debate criticize the candidate who isn't there: Mike Bloomberg
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Democrats at the 2020 primary debate in New Hampshire on Friday night dinged former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergSanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Klobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Buttigieg proposes undoing SALT deduction cap MORE, hinting he was using his vast personal wealth to try to buy the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Bloomberg, who is skipping the New Hampshire primary and three other early contests even as he blankets the airwaves with ads for his presidential campaign, was not on stage Friday night. 

But his presence was felt during one question during the debate.

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“I don’t think anyone ought to be able to buy their way into a nomination or to be president of the United States,” said. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCandidates face pressure to exit presidential race Buttigieg proposes undoing SALT deduction cap Bloomberg called Warren 'scary,' knocked Obama's first term in leaked audio MORE (D-Mass.) when asked about Bloomberg’s candidacy. “I don’t think any billionaire out to be able to do it, and I don’t think people who suck up to billionaires in order to fund their campaigns ought to be able to do it.” 

Bloomberg wasn't eligible to be on stage on Friday under the Democratic Party's rules for the debate, but he could be on stage soon given a rule change by the Democratic National Committee that will no longer require that candidates hit a donor limit to be on stage.

The former New York City mayor is self-funding his campaign. 

“It’s a funny thing. There are millions of people who can desire to run for office, but I get if you’re worth $60 billion and you can spend several hundred millions on commercials, you have an advantage. That is nonsense,” added Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE (I-Vt.). 

Bloomberg's advertising effort has focused on key primary states like California and Florida and general election swing states. 

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“I can’t stand the big money in politics,” said Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race Buttigieg proposes undoing SALT deduction cap MORE (D-Minn.). “People don’t look at the guy in the White House and say, ‘Can we get someone richer?’ I don’t think they think that. They want to have someone they can understand.”

Transparency over campaign financing has taken a central role in the crowded primary field. Several 2020 Democrats have renounced taking donations from corporate-backed super PACs, while Sanders and Warren have eschewed high-dollar fundraisers altogether.

“If we want to change America, you’re not going to do it by electing candidates who are going out to rich people’s homes begging for money,” said Sanders.

However, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race MORE defended his campaign’s efforts to tap into funds from high-dollar donors, saying the Democratic Party should not refuse resources heading into the fight to unseat President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE

“We are going into the fight of our lives,” he said. “We need to go into that fight with everything that we’ve got.”