It also comes one day after a Washington Post report on the lawsuits that have been filed against Bloomberg over the years alleging discrimination against women and sexual harassment at his company. A number of the cases have either been settled, dismissed in Bloomberg’s favor or closed because of a failure by the plaintiff to meet filing deadlines.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg called on Bloomberg to publicly address the allegations regarding his treatment of women.
“I think he’s going to have to answer for that and speak to it,” Buttigieg told host Chris Wallace.
Buttigieg, who edged out Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Iowa caucuses and placed a close second to him in the New Hampshire primary this month, said there is “no comparison” between Bloomberg’s alleged behavior and the way President Trump has treated women and people of color.
But he sought to draw a contrast between Republicans and Democrats, arguing that “we in our party hold ourselves to the highest standard.”
“It is going to be critical for us to have a nominee who can authentically lead and who can show growth on these challenges,” Buttigieg said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), another leading 2020 presidential contender, took aim at Bloomberg’s record, particularly on stop-and-frisk, describing the former mayor’s actions as “unconstitutional.”
“I’ll say this: I am on your show right now, Margaret, answering these tough questions,” Klobuchar told host Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Where is he? He just keeps running a bunch of ads. He’ll probably have more ads during your show in certain states than I’m on answering your questions. I think he cannot hide behind the airwaves and the money.”
At a campaign event in Carson City, Nev., Sanders swung hard at Bloomberg, mocking the billionaire’s wealth and chastising him for being absent from the first four states on the primary calendar.
Just hours after Sanders opened a new line of attack on Bloomberg by challenging his record on racial issues, he returned to accusing him of trying to buy his way to victory by spending huge sums of his own cash on television ads.
“Now Mike Bloomberg is struggling. He’s down to his last 60 billion dollars. Life is hard,” Sanders said sarcastically. He accused the former New York mayor of wondering, “How do I buy the presidency?”
“By spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on TV ads,” said Sanders, answering his own question.
Former vice president Joe Biden, who has struggled for traction after his disappointing performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, also criticized Bloomberg. In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden said “$60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can’t erase your record.”
“You take a look at the stop-and-frisk proposals. You take a look at his ideas on redlining,” Biden said, referring to a discriminatory housing practice. “You take a look at what he’s done relative to the African American community. I’m anxious to debate Michael on the issues relating to, you know, what we’re going to face in Super Tuesday.”
Bloomberg is skipping the first four states in the Democratic nominating process but has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising across the country ahead of the March 3 Super Tuesday contests.
According to the 2015 audio, Bloomberg told an audience at an Aspen Institute event that “the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw ’em against the wall and frisk ’em.”
As audio of the speech recirculated, Bloomberg’s campaign last week released a statement in which the former mayor said that he had “inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused.”
The practice has been criticized as form of racial profiling.
“By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95 percent, but I should’ve done it faster and sooner,” Bloomberg said in the statement. “I regret that, and I have apologized — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on black and Latino communities.”
Sanders slammed Bloomberg for the stop-and-frisk policing tactic at a Democratic dinner in Las Vegas on Saturday night. And at Sunday’s rally in Carson City, the senator from Vermont got some reinforcement from Bloomberg’s successor in New York, Bill de Blasio, who introduced Sanders at the event.
“I am sorry to report to you that the chief proponent of stop-and-frisk is in fact running for president of the United States,” said de Blasio, referring to Bloomberg.
The crowd booed loudly.
Among the lawsuits that have been filed against Bloomberg over his behavior toward women, the most high-profile case involved a former saleswoman. She sued Bloomberg personally, as well as his company, alleging workplace discrimination. She alleged that when Bloomberg learned she was pregnant, he told her to “kill it.”
Bloomberg has denied the saleswoman’s allegation under oath, and he reached a confidential settlement with her.
On Saturday, he tweeted in defense of his treatment of women throughout his career.
“I would not be where I am today without the talented women around me,” he said. “I’ve depended on their leadership, their advice and their contributions. As I’ve demonstrated throughout my career, I will always be a champion for women in the workplace.”
Trump and his allies have taken aim at Bloomberg over the issue as well — despite the fact that the president has a history of making lewd comments about women. According to a video obtained by The Washington Post during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women in a 2005 conversation with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush.
On Sunday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway argued that Bloomberg’s reported comments about women are “far worse” than what Trump said on the “Access Hollywood” tape. Bloomberg’s comments are “fair game” in the campaign, she added.
“Let me tell you something: The way Michael Bloomberg treated employees, female employees who were under his wing . . . to have created that kind of culture, that unsafe workplace, to feel that you’re being harassed because of your gender, that is problematic, and I think you’re going to hear more of it,” Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Michael Kranish in Washington and Sean Sullivan in Carson City, Nev., contributed to this report.