Bloomberg was the turkey at a turkey shoot during Democratic debate: Goodwin

In the months before he decided to run for president, Michael Bloomberg swore he wouldn’t take the plunge. Over and over, he told friends there was no place for him in the Democratic Party.

He might have been right, to judge from the beating he took in Las Vegas. His first debate was the night he dreaded and while his race for the nomination isn’t DOA, the road to victory just got a lot tougher.

His record and notorious past comments were easy pickings, and his rivals repeatedly aimed their fire at his billions, turning his wealth into a crime against humanity. Sometimes they misfired, but mostly they struck gold with their broadsides.

The audience ate it up, and Bloomy must have felt like the turkey in a turkey shoot.

The most devastating blow was Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s demand that he release women from the non disclosure agreements they signed after complaining about sexual harassment or other issues at his Wall Street firm. Usually self-assured to the point of cockiness, Bloomy looked like a deer in the headlights, frozen with a mix of indecision and embarrassment.

Eventually he said no, he would not release the women and let them talk, but by then he had lost the argument. Joe Biden then piled on for good measure.

That’s not to suggest Bloomberg is completely finished. The heart of his case–that having Sanders as the nominee will hand Donald Trump four more years–cannot be dismissed and will still ring true for a lot of Democrats.

And Bloomberg will still keep using his money to paper voters in the Super Tuesday states with wall-to-wall television ads. Indeed, during the debate, his team was shadowing the topics by sending out statements on positions that tried to amplify or clarify things he said. Missives on stop and frisk, gender equality and the environment were among the handful I received during the debate.

Bloomberg’s best moment came in a showdown with Sanders, calling the Vermont senator’s attacks on the American system “ridiculous” and declared that the entire conversation would be the best argument for re-electing Trump.

“We’re not going to throw out capitalism,” Bloomberg said sharply. “We tried that. It was called Communism.”

When Sanders shot back that he was talking Democratic socialism, Bloom drew blood by saying Sanders is “the best known socialist in the country and happens to be a millionaire with three houses.”

Exchanges like that made the two hours fly by. With Sanders the clear front-runner, most of the others came with the same goal — to be the lone alternative, and then defeat Sanders by painting as too far left to win the general election.

One result was the classic shoot-out in a lifeboat, with everybody sniping at somebody. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar went at each other all night, as did Buggigieg and Sanders, and Warren went after Buttigieg and Klobuchar. At the end, none of them really stood out enough to change the basic contours of the race.

With one exception. Nobody went after Biden, which is bad news for him. It means the others have decided he’s not a threat and that he’s collapsing without being pushed. They don’t want to alienate his supporters, so they’ll wait until he quits.

You can’t blame them. Although Biden had several good moments, his ghostly appearance and the way he gets lost in the weeds of his own thoughts on complicated answers suggests the end is near. Not so long ago, he was the front runner and now he’s toast.

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