Elizabeth Warren's strong debate performance inspires best fundraising day yet

Elizabeth Warren was roundly declared the victor of an often tempestuous Democratic debate, reviving her campaign after slipping in polls

Elizabeth Warren has seemingly revived her flagging bid to become US president after a fiery Democratic debate performance in Las Vegas garnered her widespread praise and a slew of much-needed campaign donations.

Warren, who repeatedly excoriated billionaire rival Mike Bloomberg during the Nevada debate, enjoyed the best fundraising day of her entire campaign on the back of the event. The Massachusetts senator raised $2.8m in donations on Wednesday, according to her campaign team.

Warren was roundly declared the victor of an often tempestuous televised debate which for the first time on stage featured Bloomberg, the media mogul who has reshaped the contest through an overwhelming campaign advertising blitz that has helped him surge in the polls as he splashed out more than $400m.

Bloomberg’s dramatic emergence made him a target for all of the other candidates but it was Warren who landed the most telling blows, comparing comments made by the former New York City mayor to Donald Trump just minutes into the debate.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against,” Warren said. “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.”

The debate was a welcome tonic to the Warren campaign, which has floundered in recent months after previously vying with former vice-president Joe Biden for frontrunner status in a crowded field of Democratic candidates. Warren’s performance was garlanded on social media, as well as by TV network pundits.

“This was a disaster for Bloomberg,” said Van Jones, a former adviser to Barack Obama, on CNN. “Bloomberg went in as the Titanic, the billion-dollar machine Titanic. Titanic – meet iceberg Elizabeth Warren. She took him to task in a way in I’ve never seen in a debate.”

As the debate unfolded Warren proceeded to attack Bloomberg over his controversial deployment of police “stop-and-frisk” tactics when he was New York mayor, a regime critics say led to racist profiling. Bloomberg has since apologized for its “overuse”. In a resurfaced interview from 2015, Bloomberg said that police should focus on minority neighborhoods “because that’s where all the crime is”.

Bloomberg’s treatment of women, particularly his use of non-disclosure agreements with those who have sued him over sexual harassment allegations, was another line of attack for Warren.

The criticism visibly unsettled Bloomberg, who said: “None of them accused me of anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told,” to scattered boos from the audience. “They signed the agreements, and that’s what we’re going to live with,” he said, before touting the amount of women he has in leadership positions in his eponymous media company.

This failed to deter Warren, who demanded the women be released from the agreements so they could speak publicly. “We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has who knows how many non-disclosure agreements and the drip, drip, drip of stories of women saying they have been harassed and discriminated against,” she said.

In an exchange that provoked applause from the audience, Warren said: “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another. This country has worked for the rich for a long time and left everyone else in the dirt.”

Both Biden and Warren endured a disappointing start in the primary voting process, which is rolling out in each state, trailing badly in Iowa and New Hampshire. The Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is now a clear leader in the polls and is only narrowly behind Pete Buttigieg, the Afghanistan veteran and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, in total declared Democratic delegates.

Buttigieg was involved in the other major clash during the Las Vegas debate, criticizing fellow moderate Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota senator, for failing to know the name of Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in a recent interview. Klobuchar defended herself with a terse retort: “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Are you mocking me, Pete?”

The candidates were broadly in agreement over the need to urgently address the climate crisis and to reverse the deregulatory scramble and the embrace of far-right nationalism by the Trump administration. There are clear differences in approaches to fix America’s often dysfunctional healthcare system, however, with Sanders’ plan for universal coverage provided for by the government-run Medicare derided as unrealistic and a vote loser by both Buttigieg and Bloomberg.

Registered Democrats will vote for their favored candidate in Nevada on Saturday, before the contest moves on to South Carolina on 29 February. A pivotal moment in the race will occur on 3 March, also known as Super Tuesday, when 14 states, including California and Texas, will vote at once.

Contributor

Oliver Milman in New York

The GuardianTramp

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