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The long-restrained Democratic hopeful came to Vegas itching for a fight — and did not disappoint.

You’re probably having a bad night if Chuck Todd asks, “Should you exist?”

That was the gutting query from one of the NBC moderators to Mike Bloomberg about 80 minutes into the former New York mayor’s debate debut Wednesday evening in Las Vegas.

The context of the question was about whether any American should be allowed to amass billions of dollars in wealth. But it was also the subtext of the entire evening, as Bloomberg’s five opponents, led by a commanding Elizabeth Warren, worked to reverse the effects of $400 million in positive advertising that has vaulted Bloomberg into third place and threatened all of their presidential prospects.

The Vegas debate stage had the feel of a late-night party suddenly crashed by an unwelcome visitor. Warren, who often says she “grew up fighting,” seized the role of bouncer from the earliest minutes, when the TV audience is often largest, by describing Bloomberg as “a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’” She later moved on to his record on civil rights (“You need a different apology here, Mr. Mayor”), accused him of “hiding his tax returns,” and performed an impromptu prosecution of Bloomberg’s use of non-disclosure agreements.

“Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,” she said.

When Warren wasn’t filleting Bloomberg, who stood directly to her right — mostly expressionless except for a dramatic eye roll during the NDA exchange — she turned to her left and delivered a rapid-fire series of attacks on Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar, often in the same 90 seconds of her allotted time to answer a question.

Warren’s strategy with respect to Sanders has changed little since the summer of 2019, when she declared, “I’m with Bernie” on Medicare for All. But for the first time, Warren even had a stinging line of attack for her closest ideological rival. Read more

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