It took less than 10 seconds for Michael Bloomberg's support for stopping and frisking black men as mayor of New York City to be referenced at tonight's Democratic debate in Las Vegas. The knives are out, folks.
The debate opened with moderators immediately pitting front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) against Bloomberg over who is the more polarizing figure and which one will bring out enough votes to push Trump out of office.
Sanders immediately brought up stop-and-frisk, stating that it will push away voters the Democrats need to win. Bloomberg, on the other hand, said moderate voters won't be coming out for socialist Sanders. If Sanders is the nominee, he said bluntly, "We'll have Trump for another four years."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) jumped in to point out that Bloomberg has said the same sorts of nasty, sexist things that people associate with President Donald Trump and has a history of "hiding his tax returns, harassing women, and supporting stop-and-frisk and redlining."
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg used the opportunity to declare that both Bloomberg and Sanders are too polarizing to win, pointed out that Sanders is having problems with the Nevada Culinary Union over his health plans, and got one of the bigger early applause lines: "Let's put in somebody who's actually a Democrat."
The attacks are entertaining, and they're also useful: The candidates are addressing the differences between their policy proposals. Of course it quickly shifted into a debate over who has the best health plan, as has every previous debate. But now the candidates are truly working for votes. For better or worse, Bloomberg has energized the candidates.