The presidential campaign for Michael Bloomberg called on fellow Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders to condemn the "Trump-like rhetoric" that led to vandalization of the former New York City mayor's Knoxville, Tennessee Headquarters.
A statement issued by the campaign on Friday afternoon initially claimed they had no knowledge of who was responsible for the damage, including anti-Bloomberg graffiti tags including calling the billionaire an ‘oligarch,’ an ‘authoritarian,’ and a ‘classist.’ The vandals also decried the candidate with a simple but harsh ‘F*ck Bloomberg.’
“The latest incident at our Knoxville campaign office is exactly what we’ve been warning about,” the statement read in part. “We don’t know who is responsible for this vandalism, but we do know it echoes language from the Sanders campaign and its supporters.”
Bloomberg camp says its office in Knoxville was vandalized and "it echoes language from the Sanders campaign and its supporters." pic.twitter.com/SZZS1ixzL5— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) February 21, 2020
Laying blame in the lap of Sanders and his supporters, often referred to as “Bernie Bros,” is just the latest rift between the two presidential candidates. Sanders, who advocates for many socialist policies that specifically target the wealthiest Americans for higher taxes, has run afoul of billionaire Bloomberg several times in recent history.
Sanders has decried Bloomberg’s former mayoral policy of “stop and frisk,” on several occasions referring to the police tactic as “racist.” Bloomberg has, in turn, criticized Sanders for preaching socialism and has referred to his supporters as uneducated. “I don’t mean to knock young people — I wish I was one again — but young people listened to [Sanders] and they said, ‘Yeah, Democratic: That’s good. Socialism: Yeah, that’s that social media stuff,’” he said in a 2016 interview.
Following a dramatic rise in national polls after injecting hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money into his longshot presidential bid, Sanders slammed Bloomberg earlier this week for not being able to generate the type of excitement he had so far been able to.
The Bloomberg campaign responded with a video showing several disparaging tweets from “Bernie Bros,” poking fun at Bloomberg’s campaign. “Is Bernie Sanders' angry army really what Democrats want?” The message of the video questions. Bloomberg has been the consistent subject of criticism from young voters who enthusiastically support Sanders.
Following the Knoxville vandalism, the Bloomberg campaign also pointed a finger at President Trump’s “rhetoric” serving as inspiration for the damaging act while calling on the Sanders campaign to cull their supporters’ dangerous behavior. “We call on Bernie Sanders to immediately condemn these attacks and for his campaign to end the Trump-like rhetoric that is clearly encouraging his supporters to engage in behavior that has no place in our politics.”
The Sanders campaign declined to comment.