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Sanders: Bloomberg won't generate excitement, energy to beat Trump

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Democratic candidate steps up attacks on his rival at Nevada campaign event

LAS VEGAS: Democratic US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said on Saturday Mr Mike Bloomberg would not generate the "excitement and energy" needed to win the White House, focusing on a rival still not fully participating in the race.

"The simple truth is that Mayor Bloomberg, with all his money, will not create the kind of excitement and energy we need to have the voter turnout that we must have to defeat Donald Trump," Mr Sanders said at a Democratic party gala.

Mr Sanders, eager to build momentum after winning New Hampshire and ending in a photo-finish for first place in Iowa, only mentioned the billionaire former New York City mayor among his competitors in a Las Vegas speech.

He was critical of Mr Bloomberg's stances on minimum wage laws, policing, taxing the rich and regulating Wall Street.

On Saturday, Nevada will hold the next contest in the state-by-state race to pick a Democratic opponent to take on Republican President Trump in November's election.

Mr Bloomberg was not at the event in Las Vegas and is not competing in Nevada.

He is choosing instead to focus on states that vote starting on March 3's "Super Tuesday", including Virginia, where he campaigned on Saturday.

Mr Sanders' remarks appeared dismissive of other candidates who did speak at the forum.

They included former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who raced Mr Sanders to the photo finish in the Iowa caucus and trailed him narrowly in New Hampshire earlier this month.

Another candidate, former vice-president Joe Biden, criticised Mr Sanders' supporters.


Mr Biden taped an interview with NBC's Meet the Press where he said Mr Sanders should "disown" some supporters for aggressive attacks on people who criticised Mr Sanders.

"You know me well enough to know if any of my supporters did that, I'd disown them. Flat disown them," Mr Biden said.

"The stuff that was said online... It is outrageous."

In a PBS interview on Thursday, Mr Sanders called the attacks "not acceptable".

Most of the other candidates avoided confrontations despite just a week until Nevada's caucus.

"The bad news is, after more than 100,000 selfies, I picked up somebody's cold," candidate Elizabeth Warren told the crowd, her voice cracking and barely audible.

"The good news is,'nevertheless she persists'. I'm on this stage tonight because I am a fighter."

Early voting started in Nevada on Saturday, with 11,800 Democrats participating.

One party official characterised turnout as higher than expected. - REUTERS