Addressing concerns about his electability, Mr. Sanders, a Vermont liberal, claimed that in the overwhelming majority of polls he came out ahead of Mr. Trump. He responded forcefully to an attack by Mr. Bloomberg claiming that the Russian government was seeking to buoy Mr. Sanders’s campaign, citing Mr. Bloomberg’s past laudatory remarks about President Xi Jinping of China.
On display, too, was Ms. Warren’s dual challenge as she fights for national momentum ahead of next week’s Super Tuesday contests: On the one hand, she is plainly eager to keep up a battle against Mr. Bloomberg that has delighted her supporters and reinvigorated her candidacy. At the same time, she must contend, perhaps more urgently, with the fast and formidable rise of Mr. Sanders on the left — a force she tried to counter by casting herself as the more accomplished progressive.
She pointed to their shared history of battling Wall Street: “In 2008, we both got our chance,” Ms. Warren said, “but I dug in, I fought the big banks, I built the coalitions and I won.”
For the second consecutive debate, Mr. Bloomberg visibly sighed and rolled his eyes as Ms. Warren assailed his variegated political history and demanded fuller disclosure from Mr. Bloomberg’s company about its treatment of women. Mentioning his history of giving large campaign contributions to Republicans, Ms. Warren said, “The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him.”
Mr. Bloomberg tried to pivot away from Ms. Warren’s criticism to make an argument about his own experience, alluding to his role taking over New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “I have the experience, I have the resources and I have the record,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “and all of the sideshows that the senator wants to bring up have nothing to do with that.”
But as in the last debate, Mr. Bloomberg’s loose phrasing offered Ms. Warren the chance to throw a hard counterpunch: What Mr. Bloomberg called a “sideshow,” she said, involved matters as serious as pregnancy discrimination.