Democrats to Turn Fire on Surging Sanders in South Carolina Debate

Surging front-runner Bernie Sanders will be in the hot seat at the Democratic debate in South Carolina on Tuesday, when his six presidential rivals try to derail his growing momentum before the next big round of nominating contests.

Free-spending billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who had a rough debut on the debate stage last week in Nevada, also will be back in the spotlight at the candidates’ final encounter before Saturday’s South Carolina primary and next week’s 14 vital Super Tuesday contests.

The pressure for a strong performance will be high for all of the contenders. Joe Biden, the national front-runner not so long ago, needs to win South Carolina to keep his campaign alive, while Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer are desperately battling for relevance.

It will be the third debate this month, and the 10th overall, for the Democrats vying for the right to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election. Tuesday’s face-off will run from 8 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. ET.

The encounters have grown more contentious as time runs out.

“Sanders will probably be the focus of attacks this time, but I expect there are going to be several people in the line of fire from all directions,” said Kelly Dietrich, a Democratic strategist who trains candidates.

Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont and a self-identified democratic socialist, has taken command of the race after strong showings in the first three nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. His strong showings have alarmed a Democratic establishment wary of his aggressive economic equality and social justice agenda.


Sanders on Monday issued his most comprehensive summary yet on how, largely through taxes on corporations and “extreme wealth,” he intends to pay for his progressive plans, such as providing medical care for all Americans.

For example, his campaign said on its website that the $2.2 trillion cost of making public college, university and trade schools tuition-free could be met over a decade with a “Wall Street speculation tax,” including a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% fee on bond trades and a 0.005% fee on dividends.

His $16.3 trillion climate change proposal would be paid for with fees and taxes on fossil fuel companies and by reducing defense spending, as well as projected tax revenue increases from new jobs it would create.

But critics have said the plans do not add up.

Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement that Sanders’ “back-of-the-napkin math” did not even begin to cover the full costs, including leaving half of the at- least $30 trillion price tag for his “Medicare for All” unexplained.

At last week’s debate, candidates launched a volley of scathing attacks on Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, who had been rising in polls after an unprecedented spending spree on ads.

Sanders will not be able to slide by as easily on Tuesday night, as candidates are already turning up their attacks on him on the campaign trail.


Bloomberg will need to rebound at Tuesday’s debate to keep his momentum alive. He entered the race in November and is skipping the four early voting states to focus on later contests, starting with Super Tuesday, when 14 states vote.

Buttigieg, the moderate former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has led the charge against Sanders, labeling him a polarizing candidate who would repel new voters.

Buttigieg could also face one of his most challenging debates. South Carolina and its large bloc of black voters will be a test of whether he can improve on what polls show is his lack of appeal to African Americans.

The debate stakes will be high as well for Biden, the former vice president. He is counting on a win in South Carolina, given his popularity among black voters, who make up more than half of the Democratic electorate in the Southern state.

Biden has led opinion polls in the state, but Sanders has been chipping away at his support and showed signs in Nevada he has expanded his backing to a more diverse electorate. Sanders won most of the state’s sizable Latino voting bloc, entrance polls showed, and finished second to Biden among black voters.

Steyer, an activist billionaire who also has spent his own money heavily on his campaign, will return to the debate stage after failing to qualify in Nevada.

He could make a difference in South Carolina, where polls show he has his greatest strength. He registers third there in the Real Clear Politics average of state polls.

The debate might provide a make-or-break moment for Klobuchar and Warren, senators from Minnesota and Massachusetts respectively, whose lagging campaigns badly need a boost.

“Some of these candidates are likely to begin facing questions from the moderators about why they are staying in the race,” said Mitchell McKinney, a political scientist and debate expert at the University of Missouri.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and John Whitesides; Additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Michael Martina; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Peter Cooney and Dan Grebler)


  1. It’s strange that not one of those wanting to tax billionaires (remember when that included millionaires like the candidates themselves?) AND corporations but consistently leave out one specific group.

    Universities have multi-billion dollar endowment funds which are NOT taxed, nor distributed in proportions anywhere near what the IRS requires.

    Why don’t Bernie et al start insisting that FREE college first be paid out of those funds?

    Here’s a thought. Have the universities co-sign all student loans instead of the taxpayers (via the government). This would ensure they turn out quality graduates in a timely manner AND with degrees

  2. I just noticed that three presidential debates are scheduled and tickets are for sale.

    Have you watched King Donald The Loser at his “rallies” recently? Holy cow! The guy is falling apart. If he keeps this up, he may not make it that far.

  3. to the Genital,

    Prove or disprove that Bernie is NOT a Commie.

    “I have many times. You ignore me and remain confused.”

    No, you are a primitive screwhead. I am not the one you need to convince. It’s others. Even if the majority of those here will NEVER vote for him because we are NOT failures, greedy , and selfish.

    Tell everyone again about your personal service and contributions to the “cause”. Prove you aren’t needy, greedy, and a selfish failure.

      1. Here’s your big chance. Provide evidence and sound arguments that Bernie is NOT a Commie.

        “The goal of socialism is communism.”–Vladimir Lenin, founder of what became the Soviet Union, where Bernie honeymooned.

        Bernie has spoken repeatedly in praise of Russia, China, Venezuela, and Cuba, all totalitarian states and which are either Communist or almost. He thinks bread lines are a good thing, but he won’t be standing in one.

    1. “”

      You have ignored posting in this thread, so I will presume that you also never read it.

  4. The Republican’t ought to run a campaign slogan for Bernie. “I got mine by taking from others.”

    This totally summarizes the greed, selfishness, and failure of Bernie’s grasping followers.

    Is it any wonder why the Genital WILL NEVER even lie about how he contributes nor if he has a job?

  5. other fun facts: Thedictator Castro, praised by Bernie, has at least $900M AND RUNS HIS OWN BANK.

    In comparison Bernie, with three houses and millions, is a slacker.

  6. fun fact: per Forbes, Cubans enjoy an annual monthly salary of $20. Meanwhile, just ONE of Castro’s son’s enjoys vacationing on the Aegean (look it up GC, you moron) on a 160-ft yacht with friends and bodyguards.

    That’s sociaism in a nutshell. The elite enjoy luxuries earned by treating their people like peons while they live wonderful lives. Bernie. Three houses. Millions in the bank.

    Why arent’ any of the socialist dimbulbs questioning this? Perhaps they are too greedily focused on their own “free” stuff to pay attention.

  7. At least Bernie is honest. He’s ALWAYS said what he believes, though he’s absolutely lied about his actual ideology, which is Communist and totalitarian.

    Look at how he refused to walk back praise for Castro, a dictator, murderer, and persecutor of dissidents, gays, the religious, etc. Who cares about a literacy rate when it only makes propaganda more effective?

    Does one imagine books, the internet, or other media are available to the Cuban literati?

    1. “he’s absolutely lied about his actual ideology, which is Communist and totalitarian” I Ching

      False. That is a lie. You are confused.

  8. It’s ironic that the Dims are now turning on Bernie, who has caucusd with them out of convenience. SO many of their programs and aims are socialist.

    They just want to boil the frog slowly. Consider how the flatulent Swalwell and idot, dirt-eater Beto pulled the lid off their confiscation/anti-2nd amendment schemes TOO SOON.

    1. “It’s ironic that the Dims are now turning on Bernie, who has caucusd with them out of convenience.” I Ching

      You confuse me.

      Are you saying that all of the independents who have ever caucused with what used to be the old Republican Party or now with the American Fascist Party are not doing it for reasons of convenience?

      No, they do it so that they can get things done (if the Grim Reaper ever lets them).

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