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"BILLIONAIRE BEATDOWN: ‘Mini Mike’ Savaged By Democratic Rivals in Nevada," by WFB’s Andrew Stiles: Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg wilted under a barrage of withering criticism from his much taller Democratic rivals during his first appearance at a primary debate …
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) came out swinging the hardest, slamming Bloomberg over his history of degrading remarks about women. She compared him unfavorably to President Donald J. Trump, urging Democrats not to "substitute one arrogant billionaire for another." Later in the debate, she humiliated the former mayor over his treatment of female subordinates and the nondisclosure agreements signed by numerous former Bloomberg employees.
WAR ON WOMEN … "Bloomberg on NDAs: ‘Maybe They Didn’t Like a Joke I Told’," by WFB’s Charles Fain Lehman: 2020 contender Michael Bloomberg during Wednesday night's debate once again refused to release potentially dozens of women, downplaying their accusations of sexual harassment as "maybe they didn't like a joke I told" …
Wednesday evening is far from the first time Bloomberg has refused to release former female employees from nondisclosure agreements settling more than a dozen legal complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination at Bloomberg LP.
I CAN SEE RUSSIA FROM MY VACATION HOUSE … "Bernie Says Russians May Be to Blame for Culinary Union Attacks," by WFB’s Graham Piro: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said that Russian trolls may be responsible for online attacks on members of Nevada's Culinary Union. "It's not thinkable" that his supporters would harass union leadership, Sanders said at Wednesday evening's Democratic debate in Las Vegas.
"Not being too paranoid, all of us remember 2016. And what we remember is efforts by Russians and others to try to interfere in our election and divide us up," Sanders said during Wednesday night's Democratic debate.
TRANSPARENCY BYPASS … "Bernie Sanders Campaign Says Asking for His Health Records Is a ‘Smear’ Like Birtherism," via DAILY BEAST: Asked by CNN if people deserve to know more about Sanders’ health, [Briahna Joy] Gray said … "What you’re seeing right now is really reminiscent of some of the smear and skepticism campaigns that have been run against a lot of different candidates in the past, questioning where they’re from and aspects of their lineage."
The press secretary went on: "It’s really telling, given that none of the same concern is being demonstrated for Michael Bloomberg, who’s the same age as Bernie Sanders and has suffered heart attacks in the past" … Gray later clarified: "I [misspoke] when I said Bloomberg had a heart attack."
INDIAN GIVING … "Super PAC launches to support Elizabeth Warren, who has decried the role of super PACs," via WAPO: A new super PAC has formed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to boost the presidential bid of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), whose banner campaign issue centers on rejecting the power of moneyed interests in politics …
In a statement, Warren’s campaign said the senator’s position has not changed … [but] did not address Warren’s feelings about Persist PAC … and the campaign did not respond to questions about whether the senator thinks the group should continue to exist to support her candidacy.
BLOOMBERG PROPOSES LEVERAGED BUYOUT … "Bloomberg camp warns Sanders ‘impossible to stop,' unless Biden, Klobuchar, Buttigieg bow out," via FOX BUSINESS: "If [Joe] Biden, [Pete] Buttigieg, and [Amy] Klobuchar remain in the race despite having no path to appreciably collecting super delegates on Super Tuesday (and beyond), they will propel [Bernie] Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead by siphoning votes away from [Michael Bloomberg]," the memo said …
Bloomberg's top strategist Kevin Sheekey stressed the need for the centrist Democrats to coalesce to prevent a possible Sanders victory.
RUPERT OUT OF QUARANTINE ZONE … "China Expels Three Wall Street Journal Reporters," via WSJ: China revoked the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters based in Beijing, the first time in the post-Mao era that the Chinese government has expelled multiple journalists from one international news organization at the same time …
The expulsions by China’s Foreign Ministry followed widespread public anger at the headline on the Feb. 3 opinion piece, which referred to China as "the real sick man of Asia."
WFB ABROAD … "In Africa, Pompeo Touts Billions of Dollars in Trade to Help ‘Westernize’ Continent," by WFB’s Adam Kredo: Speaking Wednesday in Ethiopia before the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo touted the influx of billions of dollars in aid from the United States to Africa in what many see as a bid to erode China's dominance across the region.
However, Pompeo's tour across three developing African countries—Senegal, Angola, and Ethiopia—has not been without contention. As these countries struggle to shake off years of authoritarian rule, terrorism and violence have stymied progress and threaten to erode hard-fought gains in government and economic reform initiatives.
DOING TRUMP’S WORK FOR HIM …
NEW: Campaign officials tell @NBCNews that Mike Bloomberg will *NOT* stand on a box during tonight's debate, despite Trump's repeated claims that he requested one to boost his height
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) February 19, 2020
THEY IS GOING CRAZY … "Gender Pronouns Can Be Tricky on Campus. Harvard Is Making Them Stick.," via NYT: Harvard being Harvard, changing a fixture of the classroom—even the format of name placards—could not be done without some serious discussion, said Mr. Garcia Blum, who is the vice president for diversity for the Kennedy School’s student government.
He wanted to reprint this year’s placards to include gender pronouns, but Harvard declined, he said. Instead, administrators compromised on the stickers, made available in the student lounge, "so people can opt in."
IT’S HER TURN, AGAIN … "ANALYSIS: Democrats Deserve a Younger, Healthier Frontrunner in 2020," by WFB’s Andrew Stiles: Presumptive frontrunners [Bernie] Sanders and [Michael] Bloomberg are both considerably older than Trump (73), and neither possesses the incumbent's legendary intellectual and physical stamina. On Wednesday, the two were arguing about which of them had suffered the more significant heart problems …
Hillary Clinton, who has yet to officially announce her candidacy for president in 2020 … is only 72 years old. She hasn't suffered any unexplained fainting spells of late—that we know of—and appears to have gotten her coughing fits under control. She is a woman, which is nice. Her net worth, in the $50 million range, is relatively modest.
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