Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner sparked a heated debate Monday on MSNBC by referring to 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as an “oligarch.”
After Turner said American voters are concerned about “the oligarchs” buying their way into elections, host Chris Matthews asked her if she thought Bloomberg was an oligarch.
Turner said, “He is. He skipped Iowa. Iowans should be insulted. Not going to New ?Hampshire. Buying his way into this race period. The DNC changed the rules. They didn’t change it for Senator Harris. They wouldn’t change it for senator booker. They didn’t change it for Secretary Castro.”
MSNBC contributor and The Root politics editor Jason Johnson said, “Calling Mike Bloomberg an oligarch has implications in this country that I think are unfair and unreasonable. I disagree with a lot of things Mike Bloomberg has done as a mayor. But oligarchy, in our particular terminology, it makes you think of some rich person who got their money off of oil in Russia, who is taking advantage of a broken and dysfunctional system. Mike Bloomberg is just a rich guy. America is full of rich guys. Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean that you’re an oligarch who abuses his power. The power that Mike Bloomberg got access to was given to him by the voters of New York.”
In the next segment, Turner and Johnson faced off in another heated exchange.
Turner said, “It’s just ironic to me that somebody would defend the wealthiest people in this country over the working people in this country. We need real campaign finance reform to the extent that a Mayor Bloomberg can totally finance his campaign, he doesn’t have to go out to the people, he doesn’t have to build a movement, he doesn’t have to talk to people. He can buy his way.”
She continued, “Maybe Jason likes the word elite over oligarch, but it’s the same attitude the elites had in 1930 over FDR.”
She added, “That is the same message Bernie Sanders has to the everyday people of this nation, that I welcome the hatred of the elites because I am standing up for you. So cry me a river for the wealthy people in this country.”
Johnson responded, “I have no problem criticizing the system. The system that allows Mike Bloomberg to make the money he makes… to buy what he wants to buy. But to call him an oligarch is a misnomer in this environment. You’re working for somebody that’s part of the 1%. Do you call him an oligarch? No, you don’t. You say he’s a rich guy.”
When Matthews asked if she wanted to change her words, Turner said, “No, he doesn’t tell me what to say or how to change my words. My word stands!”
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