The Slatest

Bloomberg Nearly Said He “Bought” Congress During the Debate

Bloomberg stands with his hands clasped on the debate stage.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the 10th Democratic primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina, on Tuesday.
Logan Cyrus/Getty Images

If you were a decabillionaire running for president who had been criticized for using his campaign and philanthropic donations to secure support from politicians and civic leaders around the country, and whom your competitors had accused of attempting to purchase the nomination with your stupendous wealth, perhaps the last thing you’d want to suggest on a debate stage was that you had “bought” Congress.

Anyway, this happened during Tuesday’s Democratic debate:

Here’s the transcript (Bloomberg’s talking about the freshman Democrats in the House):

They talk about 40 Democrats. Twenty-one of those were people that I spent $100 million to help elect. All of the new Democrats that came in, put Nancy Pelosi in charge, and gave the Congress the ability to control this president, I bou—I, I got that. 


Look, it’s a slip of the tongue. And it was in the context of a riff on a legitimately good thing Bloomberg did for the Democratic Party and, considering which president Congress is trying to constrain, the country. But it’s also a perfect illustration of why Bloomberg is better as a political backer than as a candidate. His money has been crucial to fueling candidates in swing districts. He’s also bankrolled effective campaigns on crucial issues like climate change (his cash really is responsible for shutting down a lot of coal-fired power plants) and gun control. But his record is dotted with unforgivable sins like stop and frisk, his ideas on economics are questionable, and he’s got all the charisma and stage presence of an uncooked Cornish game hen. Plus, he’s rusty, which is why he almost slipped and said he friggin’ bought Capitol Hill.