The Latest: Buttigieg sick, cancels several Florida events

February 26, 2020 GMT
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The stage is set for a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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The stage is set for a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 Democratic primary contest (all times local):

11:45 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has cancelled four events in south Florida set for Wednesday because of illness.

Buttigieg campaign spokesman Chris Meagher says the former mayor is sick with a cold.

Buttigieg stills plans to attend an event Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina, with the Rev. Al Sharpton, then travel to Washington for previously scheduled meetings.

Three of the Florida events were fundraisers. Buttigieg has been asking supporters to help him raise $13 million ahead of next week’s 14-state Super Tuesday contests.

Following Tuesday night’s debate, Buttigieg had been scheduled to travel to Coral Gables, Florida, for a fundraiser ahead of a public campaign event. He was then scheduled to headline late afternoon and evening fundraising events in West Palm Beach and nearby Wellington, before traveling to Washington.


10:05 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is committing to putting the first black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biden said during Tuesday night’s presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that he is “looking forward” to making that a reality.

Biden made the remark during a closing portion in which each candidate was asked about a misconception about themselves, as well as an issue about which he or she is passionate.

Biden is relying on a base of support from black voters, who comprise the majority of voters in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

Biden also noted that he aims to live by a motto of “When you get knocked down, you get up, and everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity.”


9:55 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he would study the issue of relocating the American Embassy in Israel to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem but wouldn’t commit to commanding the change.

The Vermont senator said during Tuesday night’s debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that he is “very proud of being Jewish” but also pressed that “you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

In 2018, the Trump administration reversed decades of U.S. foreign policy by siding more blatantly with Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the American Embassy there. President Donald Trump also closed Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington and cut funding to Palestinian aid programs.


The other Jewish candidate onstage, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, said, “You can’t move the embassy back.” Instead, he said, “The answer is to obviously split it up.”

Capping off the issue, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said moving the embassy is not a decision for the U.S. to make, adding, “We should let the parties determine the capitals themselves.”


9:45 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says it’s possible to oppose authoritarianism and still acknowledge good things such governments have done.

Sanders has come under criticism for praising former Cuban leader Fidel Castro for creating a “massive literacy program.” At least one House Democrat from Florida, which has a large Cuban population, was critical of the remarks, calling Castro a “murderous tyrant.”

Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg criticized Sanders for the remarks on the debate stage in South Carolina on Tuesday night. Sanders criticized U.S. foreign policy broadly for working with some dictators or authoritarian governments and not others.


9:35 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is reiterating a commitment to releasing his tax returns when they are ready.

The billionaire said during Tuesday night’s debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that he is working on readying his returns for release “as fast as we can.”

In last week’s debate in Las Vegas, Bloomberg said that it takes “a long time” to compile his tax returns because he makes a lot of money and “can’t go to TurboTax.”

Bloomberg runs a financial data and media company. He is worth an estimated $60 billion.

All the other contenders on stage have released their tax returns. The other billionaire on stage, California climate activist Tom Steyer, noted that he had released a decade’s worth of tax returns.

Steyer is worth approximately $1.6 billion.


9:30 p.m.

Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg nearly misspoke to say he “bought” new Democratic members of the U.S. House.

Bloomberg was speaking at Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina about how he spent $100 million to help Democratic candidates flip U.S. House seats held by Republicans. He began to say “I bought,” before catching himself and saying “I got them,” noting their elections helped Nancy Pelosi become speaker of the House.

Bloomberg is one of the world’s richest men and has funded numerous candidates and political causes.

President Donald Trump’s campaign spokesman and eldest son were among those on Twitter highlighting the flub.

“Wow!!! He’s admitting he BOUGHT those seats!” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.


9:25 p.m.

Even when he’s not on stage, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is getting his message out.

The billionaire’s campaign is blanketing airwaves nationwide, and Tuesday night’s debate was no exception. Bloomberg ads were featured during the first two commercial breaks of the debate ahead of Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

The Bloomberg ads highlight his experience in the business community and as mayor, and they outline some of his key policy proposals. They also feature reporting that President Donald Trump is wary of Bloomberg’s rise in Democratic polls.

Bloomberg has spent more than $500 million of his own money on his presidential campaign in the last three months.


9:20 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is urging restraint on fully legalizing marijuana, saying that more scientific research is needed.

The former New York City mayor said at Tuesday night’s presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that it’s “just nonsensical” to push forward to full legalization without more research on the effects of the drug, particularly on young people.

Many Democrats in the field have advocated various levels of loosening drug policies, ranging from decriminalization to legalization. Bloomberg said he backs decriminalization.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he backs that idea, as well as expungement of criminal records.

Just before a commercial break, former Vice President Joe Biden interjected a comment on his work to “set up drug courts.”


9:10 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says he’s the presidential candidate best situated to appeal to black voters, citing his commitment to equitable wealth creation and housing opportunities.

Biden said during Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that he would also go after those trying to gentrify neighborhoods traditionally occupied by minority residents.

The debate is the final one ahead of South Carolina’s Saturday primary.

On Monday, Biden rolled out a $640 billion national housing policy, which would prevent mortgage servers from foreclosing during loan modification and set up a timely notification system for such changes.

Following up on Biden’s comments, California billionaire Tom Steyer said he would work toward trying to “correct injustice” in the loan service industry. He then launched into his common campaign trail theme of arguing his support for a conversation on reparations and the creation of a commission to study race relations in America.


9 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is taking on rival Bernie Sanders for his resistance to ending the Senate procedural rule that requires more than a simple majority to pass most major legislation.

Sanders has stopped short of endorsing an elimination of the Senate rule known as the filibuster, which requires 60 out of 100 senators to approve most major bills. Despite that fact, the Democratic presidential front-runner is pitching an array of sweeping policy changes that are highly likely to fall short in Congress with the filibuster still in place.

“How are we going to lead a revolution if you can’t support a rules change?” Buttigieg challenged Sanders.

The two White House hopefuls are squaring off Tuesday night at a high-stakes primary debate in Charleston ahead of South Carolina’s Saturday primary.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is in favor of eliminating the filibuster should Democrats take back Senate control and be in position to make the change.


8:55 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is yet again going after Bernie Sanders for what he characterized as softness toward the gun manufacturing industry.

Biden said at the Democratic presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, on Tuesday night that Sanders’ position on gun makers “has caused carnage on our streets.”

In response, Sanders said he has “cast thousands of votes, including bad votes. That was a bad vote.” The issue came up after an introductory question that included mention of the 2015 massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church - just steps from the debate venue - in which nine black Bible study participants were slain during a racist shooting.

Sanders, in 2005, supported a proposal backed by the National Rifle Association granting gun manufacturers broad legal protections. He has repeatedly been put on the defensive during the 2020 campaign on his perceived support for the gun manufacturing industry.

In a turn on the issue, Pete Buttigieg also took on Sanders, saying his position on guns wasn’t an old one but “is a current bad position that Bernie Sanders holds.”


8:45 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg says the cost of Bernie Sanders’ health care plan “adds up to four more years of Donald Trump.”

He also says it would make California Republican Kevin McCarthy the speaker of the House and stop Democrats from winning back control of the U.S. Senate.

At Tuesday night’s debate, Buttigieg echoed Democrats who have warned that a Sanders nomination would harm candidates running in down-ticket races. Buttigieg says Democratic candidates who flipped House seats in 2018 don’t want to defend Sanders’ policies on “Medicare for All.”

He said, “The time has come for us to stop acting like the presidency is the only office that matters.”


8:40 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says his government-based “Medicare for All” health care plan won’t cost as much as many estimate and is the best possible option for the country.

The Vermont senator said during Tuesday night’s debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that it’s best to guarantee health care for everyone, not rely on a variety of separate insurance plans.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said that more was needed in the health care debate than “broken promises that sound good on bumper stickers.” The rest of the field lobbed criticism at Sanders on Tuesday’s stage as expected, given his elevated profile following wins in earlier contests.

California billionaire Tom Steyer said that Sanders’ plan “shows a huge risk for the Democratic Party.”


8:35 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is slamming rival Mike Bloomberg over a news report that he told a female employee to “kill it” when she became pregnant. The former New York City mayor denies it.

Invoking her own personal story of discrimination on the job after she became pregnant, Warren escalated her push to get Bloomberg to release all former employees from nondisclosure agreements they signed while working at his media company. The two Democratic presidential hopefuls are tangling on Tuesday night at a pivotal debate in South Carolina, which holds its primary on Saturday.

Bloomberg is denying that he made the incendiary remark to a former female employee: “Never said it, period.”

He is also apologizing for off-color remarks he is reported to have made to female employees, but he has declined to address Warren’s call that he issue a more blanket release from nondisclosure agreements than the three women he has recently released.


8:30 p.m.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg says he has been preparing for the role of president since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Responding to criticism Tuesday from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren that he is the “riskiest” candidate in the Democratic presidential field, Bloomberg says he’s the choice “that makes the most sense.”

He says: “I have the experience, I have the resources, and I have the record.”

Bloomberg adds that he is best positioned to run the country because he ran the city of New York.

He says: “I have been training for this job since I stepped on the pile that was still smoldering on 9/11.”


8:15 p.m.

Elizabeth Warren is going straight at fellow progressive Bernie Sanders as the latest Democratic presidential debate begins.

Warren said Tuesday that she would be a better president than Sanders because she’ll be able to get more progressive policies passed. She said she’s “dug in” when it comes to fighting big banks and actually explaining how she’d enact universal health care.

Warren said: “Progressives have got one shot, and we need to spend it with a leader who is going to get something done.”

Warren and Sanders share many of the same policy goals. But Sanders has performed far better in the early presidential nominating contests.

Her comments mark some of the sharpest contrasts she’s drawn with him so far. Sanders’ opponents have argued that he’s been ineffective during his three decades in Congress.


8 p.m.

The Democratic presidential debate is kicking off in South Carolina ahead of the state’s weekend primary.

Seven candidates are participating in Tuesday night’s high-stakes debate in Charleston. It could be the White House hopefuls’ final prime-time opportunity to change the direction of the 2020 nomination fight, with Bernie Sanders as the party’s presidential front-runner.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was the focus of last week’s debate for his highly anticipated debut, but after a bad performance froze his momentum, the knives are out for the 78-year-old Vermont senator.

Sanders’ handling of the pressure could be crucial in determining whether he stays at the top of the Democratic pack.

Tuesday’s forum comes just four days before South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary and one week before more than a dozen states vote on Super Tuesday.


7:05 p.m.

Hours before the Democratic presidential candidates took the debate stage, Vice President Mike Pence trained his focus on Bernie Sanders while campaigning in Michigan.

Pence on Tuesday swatted away a question from a reporter about whether Sanders would prove to be a tougher opponent in the battleground state. Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to win Michigan since George H.W. Bush took the state in 1988.

But the vice president suggested that Sanders’ advocacy for “Medicare for All,” which would effectively end private insurance, wouldn’t sit well with rank-and-file United Automobile Workers union members in the state’s auto industry.

Pence said, “Telling hundreds of thousands of UAW workers that they’ll lose their health insurance doesn’t sound like a winning message.”

Trump’s Democratic rivals are set to debate Tuesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, ahead of the state’s Saturday primary.


6:30 p.m.

Mike Bloomberg is set to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference next week, a move that puts him at odds with fellow Jewish Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders.

Sanders has vowed to skip AIPAC’s conference, aligning with liberal activists who pushed every Democratic White House candidate to rule out an appearance. The decision by the Vermont senator is drawing sharp criticism from pro-Israel members of Congress and the Anti Defamation League, making Bloomberg’s decision to attend a point of sharp contrast with his opponent.

Sanders and Bloomberg will face off Tuesday night at a pivotal Democratic primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina.

Sanders and another Democratic hopeful, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have said they would skip AIPAC’s conference amid liberal concerns about its unwavering alignment with the conservative Israeli government to the exclusion of Palestinians. Sanders has said the group gives airtime to “leaders who express bigotry.”