Claim: Pete Buttigieg (D) suggested during Wednesday evening’s debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Michael Bloomberg (D) are not truly Democrats.
Verdict: Mixture. While both candidates are running as Democrats in the presidential election, Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist and serves as an independent in Congress. Bloomberg left the Democrat Party to register as a Republican in 2001 and switched to an independent in 2007. He did not register as a Democrat again until 2018.
Moderator Lester Holt kicked off the debate Wednesday by asking the field of candidates about the presence of Sanders, “a self-described democratic socialist,” leading the field and the rise of Bloomberg, “a former Republican who spent millions of his own dollars to run in this race.”
Buttigieg said Democrats should view it as a wake-up call, describing the two as the “most polarizing figures on this stage” and suggesting that they are not true Democrats.
“And most Americans don’t see where they fit if they’ve got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power,” Buttigieg said.
“Let’s put forward somebody who actually lives and works in a middle-class neighborhood, in an industrial Midwestern city. Let’s put forward somebody who’s actually a Democrat,” he added.
Buttigieg’s assertion is not necessarily false. Bloomberg has jumped from party to party over the past two decades and did not officially join the Democrat Party again until 2018 as he reportedly mulled a presidential bid.
Sanders, who happily wields his status of a democratic socialist, is an independent but routinely sides with the Democrat Party in Congress. He also signed a loyalty pledge last year, which stated that he is a member of the Democrat Party.
It states, “I will run as a Democrat, accept the nomination of my Party, and I will serve as a Democrat if elected”:
Sen. Sanders has signed a loyalty pledge to the Democratic National Cmte., saying he is a member of the party and will run for president in 2020 only as a Democrat, his campaign and the DNC tell @NBCNews – @aseitzwald pic.twitter.com/RUv4Sp5nG0
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) March 5, 2019
The current RealClearPolitics poll shows both candidates, Sanders and Bloomberg, in the top tier, leading Buttigieg nationally.