MSNBC’s Brian Williams discusses Tuesday’s Democratic debate in South Carolina with Steve Schmidt, who was John McCain’s campaign manager in 2008:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: How do you process the fact that tomorrow night we’re going to have seven people on stage, two of them are billionaires. Two of them look at real double-digit poll numbers knowing that money bought those poll numbers, not some inner need to have them as our next president. How do we process that?
STEVE SCHMIDT: Well, I think that they’re two different cases, right? First off, Mike Bloomberg was the mayor of New York City for 12 years, and by any objective standard, he was one of the most competent, successful leaders of large government anywhere in the world over the last quarter-century.
He was a profoundly successful mayor. I think it’s a mistake for Democrats to attack somebody like Mike Bloomberg, who grew up in a middle-class circumstance and is a self-made man, is one of the country’s greatest philanthropists, and I disagree with him on a number of different issues. But if you are invested in progressive causes, it’s hard for me to think of anybody who has done more to advance progressivism, whether it’s on gun issues, whether it’s on climate, than has Mike Bloomberg. So the notion that Mike Bloomberg is on that stage somehow illegitimately is not something that I really understand. Tom Steyer has been an activist in American politics now for some period of years. He has communicated a message. He’s gotten the requisite poll numbers to be on the stage.
The question will be after the South Carolina primaries if you have eight moderate democrats, all of whom might have a greater chance of beating Donald Trump than does Bernie Sanders, will some of those candidates get out of the race to help coalesce support around the strongest moderate candidate?
Part of the issue right now in the Democratic primary is you cannot make an objective judgment and say Bernie Sanders is going to go down to Donald Trump in the swing states on the basis of poll numbers because the poll numbers don’t support that in those states. But when you look at Bernie Sanders’ positions, that we should decriminalize illegal immigration, that we’re going to take health insurance away from 150 million people who have private health insurance, a range of other issues.