The Latest: Bloomberg isn’t at debate, but he’s name-dropped

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 Democratic presidential debate and the upcoming primary in New Hampshire (all times local):

10:15 p.m.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg didn’t qualify for the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire — but it didn’t always feel that way.

The candidates on stage Friday night were asked several times about the former mayor of New York City.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren responded, “I don’t think anyone ought to be able to buy their way into the nomination or to be president of the United States.” She also said candidates shouldn’t “suck up to billionaires to do it.”

That was a swipe at former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who have relied on large donors to finance their campaigns.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders singled out Buttigieg specifically, saying, “I don’t have 40 billionaires, Pete, contributing to my campaign.”

New debate rules set by the Democratic National Committee may see Bloomberg qualify for future debates.


9:55 p.m.

Democrat Tom Steyer has twice openly called on former Vice President Joe Biden to publicly disavow a top surrogate’s comments that Steyer characterized as “openly racist.”

The billionaire climate activist made the request during Friday night’s debate in New Hampshire. He was referencing comments earlier in the week, when a South Carolina state senator tweeted that the chair of South Carolina’s Legislative Black Caucus — who has endorsed Steyer and works for him as an adviser — had received “almost $50,000” from Steyer’s campaign.

State Sen. Dick Harpootlian also called Steyer “Mr. Money Bags,” seemingly implying the lawmaker’s support had been bought.

Biden replied that he believed Harpootlian was sorry for the comment while noting he has “more support in South Carolina in the Black Caucus” than others in the field.

The competition is fierce for South Carolina’s black voters, who comprise most of the Democratic primary electorate in the state.


9:45 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidates at Friday’s debate agree that they’d appoint Supreme Court justices who’d uphold the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, but there are distinctions on whether to try to expand the size of the court.

Pete Buttigieg wants to expand the court through a constitutional amendment while also changing the way justices are selected. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, disputed that his idea amounts to packing the court.

But former Vice President Joe Biden said any plan to expand the court is a bad idea. Biden noted that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg holds the same position.

Biden and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer said the argument over the court shows how important it is for Democrats to win enough Senate seats to retake a majority. Biden argued that he’s the only Democratic candidate who’d have a coattail effect for Senate candidates in battleground states and GOP-leaning states like North Carolina and Georgia.


9:35 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he has evolved on gun-related issues as he was pressed to explain a decades-old vote against background checks.

Sanders said at Friday night’s Democratic presidential debate that, coming from his largely rural state of Vermont, “we had virtually no gun control legislation at all, and I represented that perspective.”

But following mass shootings and gun violence, Sanders said, “The world has changed, and my views have changed.” He also plugged his D-minus rating from the National Rifle Association.

Asked if Sanders deserved consideration of the totality of his record, former Vice President Joe Biden noted that Sanders had also supported “a loophole that does not allow them (gun manufacturers) to be sued for the crimes they have created.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders was criticized by his Democratic opponents for the 1993 background check vote, as well as early 2000s votes concerning gun manufacturers that were referenced by Biden.


9:20 p.m.

Bernie Sanders says he heard the same arguments from George W. Bush’s administration about Iraq that Joe Biden did but “concluded that they were lying through their teeth.”

The Democratic presidential hopefuls are again clashing over the U.S.-led war in Iraq during a debate in New Hampshire on Friday.

Biden, a former Delaware senator and vice president, took criticism from several rivals over his vote to authorize the invasion and said he made the mistake of believing the Bush administration that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Sanders, a Vermont senator, agreed, saying of Bush administration officials, “Like Joe and others, I also heard the arguments.” But he added, “I concluded that they were lying through their teeth.”

Sanders voted against the invasion of Iraq. Biden voted for it.


9:10 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is cautioning against pulling American troops entirely out of Afghanistan, saying such actions can lead to regional instability.

During Friday night’s Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, Biden recalled the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, saying troops were “ashamed” to leave while the Kurds asked Americans to stay.

Biden was responding to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s remark that “it’s time to bring our troops home” from Afghanistan, a position she has voiced in previous debates.

Warren reaffirmed her recent comments about what she sees as a lack of a clear plan for withdrawal, noting she would listen to generals as the nation’s commander in chief but would seek to “work with our allies in managing terrorism.”

Noting her service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Warren said she has visited combat zones with Republicans, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.


9 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden encouraged the crowd at Friday’s Democratic presidential debate to give a standing ovation to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman after President Donald Trump ousted him in retribution for his testimony during House impeachment proceedings.

Biden declared Friday that Trump “should be pinning a medal on Vindman, not Rush Limbaugh,” the far-right radio personality with whom Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom on Tuesday.

The ovation for Vindman punctuated a discussion that started with mention of Trump’s efforts to have Biden and his son Hunter investigated by Ukraine officials. That move was the crux of the impeachment case against Trump.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg defended the Bidens. “We are not going to let them change the subject,” he said. “This is not about Vice President Biden or Hunter Biden. This is about abuse of power by the president.”


8:55 p.m.

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang says Democrats are making a mistake when they act like President Donald Trump is “the cause of all our problems.”

Yang said during the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire on Friday night that Trump is “a symptom of a disease that has been building up in our communities for years and decades.”

Yang says Democrats need to instead work on “treating the disease” by tackling issues such as automation of jobs and corporations like Amazon that have avoided paying federal income tax.

He pointed to swing states like Iowa and Ohio that Trump captured in 2016, saying, “These communities are seeing their way of live get blasted into smithereens.”


8:50 p.m.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is unloading on former Mayor Pete Buttigieg at Democrats’ presidential debate for saying that watching the chaos in Washington almost made him want to change the channel to cartoons.

“It’s easy to go after Washington,” she said Friday, but “it’s much harder to lead.”

Klobuchar took Buttigieg to task especially for his mockery of the Senate impeachment proceedings. She noted the “courageous” votes of Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. Both men voted to convict Trump — Romney on one count — and remove him from office.

In her sharpest blow, Klobuchar implicitly compared Buttigieg’s argument to the man Democrats hope to topple in November. “We have a newcomer in the White House now, and look where it got us,” she said. “I think having some experience is a good thing.”


8:40 p.m.

Pete Buttigieg says that the Obama administration met the moment of their day and “now we have to meet this moment.”

Buttigieg sought to turn his relative lack of experience in politics into an advantage at Friday’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire.

He was challenged by Joe Biden, who listed off some of his accomplishments during a long tenure in politics, including the Violence Against Women Act. Biden said, “I don’t know what about the past of Barack Obama and Joe Biden was so bad” and called for “someone who knows how to get things done.”

In his reply, Buttigieg noted the accomplishments of the Obama administration and said that “now, we have to meet this moment.”

Biden and Buttigieg have previously clashed over a contrast in their ages and elected experience.

The candidates brought a renewed intensity to Friday night’s debate following the chaotic results of the Iowa caucuses.


8:30 p.m.

Neither Elizabeth Warren nor Pete Buttigieg is proving willing to criticize Bernie Sanders for embracing democratic socialism in the opening moments of the Democratic debate.

Warren, a Massachusetts senator, was asked about saying previously that she is “a capitalist to my bones.” But she refused to make a major contrast at Friday’s debate in New Hampshire, saying only, “Bernie and I have been friends for a long time.”

Warren said the “fundamental question” is “how we bring our party together” and talked about fighting government corruption, saying it is “an issue we can all agree on.”

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said he wasn’t interested in labels like socialism. He and Sanders, a senator from Vermont, went on to clash on policy rather than on ideological labels.

Sanders says being a democratic socialist won’t make it harder to defeat President Donald Trump in November because “Donald Trump lies all the time” anyway.


8:25 p.m.

Bernie Sanders says he’s confident Democrats can unify to defeat President Donald Trump, despite the president’s attempts to paint Sanders’ self-avowed “democratic socialist” label in a negative light.

Sanders opened Friday night’s debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, saying that he viewed energizing turnout as vital to a Democratic victory in November.

“No matter who wins this damned thing, we’re all going to stand together to defeat Donald Trump,” he added.

Sanders was asked to respond to Trump’s comments earlier this week to Fox News, when the president said, “I think of communism when I think of Bernie.”

Asked if they had concerns about a top-of-the-ticket candidate with a “democratic socialist” moniker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer raised their hands.

This is the final debate before next week’s first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary.


8:15 p.m.

Joe Biden is acknowledging he “took a hit” in Iowa and says he’ll “probably take a hit” in New Hampshire as well.

Biden was asked early in Friday’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire why he thinks his party would be taking a risk by nominating either Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg. Biden finished a distant fourth in Iowa’s caucuses on Monday, while Sanders and Buttigieg finished in a near tie for first.

The former vice president noted that Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist.” Biden said if Sanders is the nominee, President Donald Trump would put that label “on every Democratic running” nationwide.

Biden praised Buttigieg as a “patriot” but also took a dig at the 38-year-old former South Bend, Indiana, as a “the mayor of a small town.” Biden also suggested that Buttigieg will have trouble building a racially diverse coalition as the nominating contest moves beyond the overwhelming white states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden noted that Sanders won the New Hampshire primary handily in 2016 over Hillary Clinton, so he said he’ll “probably take a hit” in the state next Tuesday.


8 p.m.

A debate featuring seven Democratic presidential candidates has started in New Hampshire amid a growing urgency among a shrinking field shaken and reshaped by this week’s chaotic Iowa caucuses.

Friday night’s debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester comes just four days before New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Monday’s chaotic Iowa caucuses raised deeper questions about several candidates’ political survival. Two candidates, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, enter Friday’s debate as the top targets, having emerged from Iowa essentially tied for the lead.

Those trailing after the first contest — including former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — also have an urgent need to demonstrate strength.

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer and New York entrepreneur Andrew Yang are fighting to prove they belong in the conversation. The next set of caucuses is in Nevada on Feb. 22.


11:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is tweeting reassurances to Iowa and New Hampshire that the two states will be first in the presidential primary schedule “as long as I am President.” He called it a “Great tradition!”

The Iowa Democratic Party has spent the week trying to verify results from Monday’s caucuses, adding fuel to complaints that the earliest voting states should be more representative of the U.S. demographically.

Trump’s tweet on Friday will appeal to many voters in the two states leading up to the general election because they want to preserve their states’ special role in the presidential race.

“I agree — thank you, Mr. President!,” tweeted New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican.

The head of New Hampshire’s Democratic Party, Ray Buckley, wouldn’t say Friday if he has confidence in Tom Perez’s leadership at the Democratic National Committee.

Perez has called for a recanvass of the Iowa caucuses and sought to shift blame onto the Iowa Democratic Party.

New Hampshire’s primary is next Tuesday.


9:30 a.m.

Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer is spending some time with supporters in New Hampshire before preparing for the final debate ahead of next week’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Steyer campaign spokesman Alberto Lammers says Steyer planned to have breakfast with supporters in Manchester on Friday morning before media interviews in the afternoon.

Lammers says Steyer will do some final debate prep before getting in a workout and heading to the debate venue.

Seven of the Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination meet Friday night for the debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. The stage features the same six candidates as the last debate — Steyer, former Vice President Joe Biden; Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren; and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — along with tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.


Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”