San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo reiterates support of Bloomberg in wake of Nevada debate
Mayor Sam Liccardo spoke at a community event in San Jose. Photo by Katie Lauer.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo stands by his endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, even after the New York billionaire struggled Wednesday at the Las Vegas debate.

Liccardo said he hopes Bloomberg’s next performance will go differently, but said the other presidential hopefuls on stage failed to focus on policy, instead unnecessarily dog-piling on the former mayor of New York City. Liccardo said Bloomberg’s experience in office makes him the best chance Democrats have to replace President Donald Trump in the White House.

Liccardo isn’t the only California city leader to back Bloomberg’s White House bid. As California co-chair for the Bloomberg campaign, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also have endorsed Bloomberg.

Despite that support, however, a host of criticisms and headlines have questioned Bloomberg’s ability to effectively defend his wealth and answer questions about his past, including an inquiry about sexually suggestive remarks he’s made and allegations that his companies are hostile workplaces for women.

“I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior the #MeToo movement has exposed,” Bloomberg said during the debate, adding that his company was recently voted one of the best places to work in the country.

But when fellow candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked Bloomberg if he would release women from nondisclosure agreements he signed addressing complaints about comments he allegedly made, he declined.

Bloomberg reversed course Friday, and said his company will release the women who have signed NDAs, if they request it.

“I’ve done a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days and I’ve decided that for as long as I’m running the company, we won’t offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward,” Bloomberg said in the statement. “I recognize that NDAs, particularly when they are used in the context of sexual harassment and sexual assault, promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported.”

The New York Times Opinion staff ranked Bloomberg last among his opponents — an average score of 2.9 out of 10 — asserting he was “unprepared and taken aback when he was treated like a presidential candidate instead of a billionaire” and his fellow candidates “slapped him relentlessly with receipts” of his political history.

The California presidential primary election is March 3, and early voting is underway throughout the state.

San José Spotlight talked with Liccardo Thursday to get his thoughts on the debate.

Q: What are your initial thoughts following Bloomberg’s debate performance?

A: I certainly hope it’ll go differently next time.

It was no secret that Mike was going to get attacked because he’s been surging in all the polls, and that’s the nature of the business. On the other hand, the last count was Mike was attacked 45 times by other candidates, which was twice as many times as Donald Trump was attacked.

As Democrats, we have to be keeping our eye on the prize. There is room for very healthy debate over matters of policy and record, but the individual we have to defeat is Donald Trump, or all is lost.

Q: Do you feel those attacks were warranted?

A: I don’t take any issue — it was all fair game. The problem wasn’t the what, but the how much and where the focus was. We didn’t hear a lot of articulation that would help voters understand why one health plan is better than the other. I just don’t believe our path to success as a party is going to be paved with infighting and the kind of bickering that has turned off Americans from all that is associated with Washington, D.C.

Q: Now looking at the content of those criticisms, such as stop and frisk, NDAs, etc., has your support and endorsement wavered?

A: I didn’t support Mike Bloomberg because I thought he was the orator that was going to win the debate. I supported him because he is the candidate who has demonstrated through his leadership — in New York and since — that he is able to rise above that divisiveness that has paralyzed our country over the last several years, and because I think he’s the candidate in the best position to beat Donald Trump.

I respect the fact that around a host of issues from affordable housing to climate change to gun violence, Mike has actually gotten things done. Frankly, it’s very difficult for any legislator to ever say they accomplished anywhere near that amount because they simply were not in the executive position to be able to get things done.

As mayor or governor or president, you have that ability. It’s a different skill set. And by the way, you also make mistakes, and as Mike apologized many times — over and over about stop and frisk — you make mistakes that are very plainly visible to the whole world. But if you look at the entire record for what he’s accomplished and what he’s gotten done, I think it’s pretty compelling to an awful lot of those independent, moderate voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio that we critically need to get on board if we’re going to beat Donald Trump.

Contact Katie Lauer at [email protected] or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.

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