Well, that could have gone better.

Mike Bloomberg was late to the 2020 presidential party, and, boy, did it show during the ex-mayor's first debate with his fellow Democratic candidates.

Billionaire Bloomberg had to know going in that he was going to have a flashing, dollar-sign-shaped target on his back in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

That'll happen when you spend hundreds of millions of dollars hiring staff and buying ads for a presidential campaign, but skip the first four nominating contests, making it look like you're trying to buy the presidency.

But Bloomberg's money is a real wild card this year, and all the candidates have something to lose if Mayor Mike is for real.

So the knives were going to be out.

And Bloomberg also had to know exactly how the Democrats were going to come at him: Stop-and-frisk. Accusations of running a hostile workplace for women. Condescending comments about blacks and Latinos. Business ties to China. The very fact that he's a billionaire.

But Bloomberg wilted in the white-hot spotlight. It looked like he hadn't done any debate prep at all.

He let Elizabeth Warren bully him on the harassment claims, to the point where Bloomberg called the non-disclosure agreements signed with female complainants "consensual." And said that maybe some ladies just didn't like the jokes he told.


Warren knows she's in the late rounds of the nomination fight. She came out punching against Bloomberg, and against Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar too.

Joe Biden, who also needed a lift, got to look tough hitting Bloomberg on Obamacare and stop-and-frisk.

And you could see just how badly Bloomberg wanted to tell America that, y'know, stop-and-frisk worked. It got guns off the streets, reduced murders and saved the lives of young men of color.

But Bloomberg has apologized for stop-and-frisk. There's no going back.

Sanders slammed Bloomberg for his billions and for his past support of President George W. Bush.

But Bloomberg had his best debate lines at Sanders’ expense, saying, "the best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?"

And this, during a segment on income inequality: "I can't think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation. This is ridiculous. We're not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism, and it just didn't work."

Sanders called it a "cheap shot," but it crystallized Democratic fears about Sanders as the party frontrunner.

Then again, in this hyper-liberal election cycle, it made sense to Bloomberg to actually brag during the debate about how he raised taxes as mayor. That's not a winning line for the general election.

MSNBC was spot-on in keeping Bloomberg on split screen while his opponents skewered him. We got to see every caustic smile, shake of the head and impatient eyeroll. New Yorkers remember that Mike Bloomberg very well.

And when do you think was the last time that Bloomberg had to raise his hand and wait to be called on? It's a new world.

Bloomberg and the rest of the candidates are hoping that Sanders falls short of the required delegates for the nomination, leading to a brokered convention where the 770 or so superdelegates can make the call.

That's great. Pray for chaos. Overrule the will of your own voters. Retreat to a smoke-filled room. And then turn around and try to call Trump corrupt.

And if the Dems do pick Bloomberg, what have they got? A billionaire who's being portrayed as sexist, racist, and who has too many foreign business entanglements.

Isn't that the type of president that the Democrats are trying to get rid of?

Staten Island Advance, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.