Bernie Sanders to Michael Bloomberg: "You ain't going to buy this election"

Bernie Sanders rebuked the billionaire Michael Bloomberg for thinking he could buy his way through the primaries

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 10, 2019 10:00AM (EST)

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (AP/Mpi04/MediaPunch/IPX)
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (AP/Mpi04/MediaPunch/IPX)

In a speech at an Iowa rally of his Democratic supporters on Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont denounced the possible presidential candidacy of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg by warning the billionaire that he could not "buy this election."

Talking to an audience at the university town of Coralville, Sanders said that "our campaign is going to end the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality which exists in America today. So tonight we say to Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires: Sorry, you ain’t going to buy this election," according to The New York Times. This echoed his comments at a climate change forum in Des Moines earlier that day, when Sanders said that he wanted "a dynamic democracy — a democracy where all of us play a role in shaping public policy, not some billionaire who decides that he wants to run for president of the United States because he’s a billionaire."

Sanders also took a swing at Bloomberg for deciding to bypass early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire so that he could focus on delegate-rich states where he believes he has a better chance of winning, like California and New York.

"You’re not going to get elected president by avoiding Iowa, by avoiding New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada," Mr. Sanders said at the rally. "You’re not going to buy this election by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on media in California. Those days are gone." The Vermont senator also contrasted the extensive grassroots support that has been fueling his campaign with the fact that Bloomberg's viability rests on his wealth.

"Bloomberg can have his billions, but that is why we are going to win this election," Sanders said regarding his own grassroots team.

Sanders was joined on his campaign swing through Iowa by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a self-identified socialist who has become an icon for younger progressives in the United States. Her presence on the campaign trail as Sanders attacked not only Bloomberg but former Vice President Joe Biden — who, like Bloomberg, appeals to the moderate wing of the Democratic Party — indicated that Sanders hopes to win the Democratic nomination by inspiring turnout from the progressive base rather than reaching out to more independent and moderate voters.

Ocasio-Cortez elaborated on her thinking during an interview with "Vogue" in June.

"I think that he’s not a pragmatic choice," Ocasio-Cortez told "Vogue." "That’s my frustration with politics today — that they’re willing to give up every single person in America just for that dude in a diner . . . Just so that you can get this very specific slice of Trump voters?"

She continued, "If you pick the perfect candidate like Joe Biden to win that guy in the diner, the cost will make you lose, because you will depress turnout, as well. And that’s exactly what happened to 2016. We picked the logically fitting candidate, but that candidate did not inspire the turnout that we needed." At that time Ocasio-Cortez said she did not have an official choice for the Democratic nomination, but since then has endorsed Sanders' presidential candidacy.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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