In this desert city built on hopes, dreams and neon lights, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a wild gamble to emerge from the protective bubble of his $400 million ad campaign and face five rivals for the Democratic nomination head-on in a nationally televised debate.

The high-stakes debut ended up as a bust – all under the glare of the intense media spotlight.

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Bloomberg, who decided to skip the early voting primary and caucus states in favor of delegate-rich Super Tuesday, wasn’t ready for prime time. He seemed detached, unprepared, and out of touch with working-class voters. The media and financial mogul was surging before Wednesday night, but limped away from the stage having accomplished the opposite of what he set out to do.

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