Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s performance Wednesday night made clear that even after dropping nearly half a billion into the race, he didn’t find time to work on basic debate prep. He was completely unprepared to handle the shots fired at him not just on his stop-and-frisk policy, but also on his alleged history of sexually suggestive remarks in the workplace.
“Several former employees have claimed that your company was a hostile workplace for women. When you were confronted about it, you admitted making sexually suggestive remarks, saying, quote, "That's the way I grew up." In a lawsuit in the 1990s, according to the Washington Post, one former female employee alleged that you said, quote, "I would do you in a second." Should Democrats expect better from their nominee?” MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson asked.
Bloomberg’s response focused on how many women he has in his workplace, including those in leadership positions, and that he has no tolerance “for the kind of behavior that the "Me, Too" movement has exposed.”
His answer did not satisfy Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who opened the debate by attacking him for being a “billionaire who calls women 'fat broads' and 'horse-faced lesbians.'”
“I hope you heard what his defense was. ‘I've been nice to some women.’ That just doesn't cut it,” Warren said.
That Bloomberg eyeroll pic.twitter.com/ODQaugDSOG— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) February 20, 2020
“The mayor has to stand on his record," she added. "And what we need to know is exactly what's lurking out there. He has gotten some number of women, dozens, who knows, to sign nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace.
“So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?”
Bloomberg said he had “very few” NDAs. But Warren demanded to know exactly how many.
“None of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn't like a joke I told. And let me just -- and let me -- there's agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet and that's up to them. They signed those agreements, and we'll live with it,” he said.
She persisted, pressing him to not only say how many NDAs existed but if he’d let them speak out now.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg piled on, making the case that the issue is about transparency.
“I've said we're not going to get -- to end these agreements because they were made consensually and they have every right to expect that they will stay private,” Bloomberg insisted.
Watch the exchange below:
When Elizabeth Warren called on Michael Bloomberg to release women from their NDAs, he said he wouldn't, adding that women who have made allegations of sexist and misogynistic behavior against him maybe "didn't like a joke I told." https://t.co/Li4Xpfujgb #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/2J9jzoDi4Z— CNN (@CNN) February 20, 2020