Kevin Sheekey, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign manager, admitted on Thursday that his boss’ debut in the Democratic presidential primary debate wasn’t pretty.
“Listen, I think Mike’s gotta get his legs under him,” Sheekey told MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle. “Certainly he had a better second half of debate than the first, I will admit that.”
Though he downplayed Bloomberg’s performance as a mere hiccup in the long election cycle ahead, the campaign manager agreed grimly with Ruhle’s observation that the former mayor seemed incapable of defending himself against his rivals’ blistering attacks.
“Listen, I think you’re right,” Sheekey said. “We need to push back a little harder against people who were screaming about things they haven’t done and get Mike’s record out there better than we did last night.”
The campaign aide said he welcomed the “Bronx cheer” Bloomberg had received, a reference to the multiple boos the crowd dealt to the billionaire when he bungled his responses to the other candidates’ scathing jabs at his tax returns and the allegations of sexual misconduct at his company.
“But I think Mike will be back,” Sheekey said. “This is a campaign that right now is just getting interesting.”
Still, the campaign chief seemed already resigned to the possibility that Bloomberg’s campaign won’t survive Super Tuesday on March 3, saying that he’s “not sure” the billionaire will manage to sink frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“It may be there’s not much campaign in March after that date, but we’re certainly fighting hard as we can to make sure that there is,” Sheekey said.
Watch the interview below:
Bloomberg’s campaign manager admits the candidate didn’t do well in the debate: “Mike’s gotta get his legs under him.” pic.twitter.com/IFMf4K9KDv
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 20, 2020
Bloomberg's campaign manager says he's “not sure” the billionaire will manage to beat Sanders. pic.twitter.com/YMvusM2ui3
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 21, 2020
This story has been updated to include the second clip of the interview.