The Note: Bloomberg spends and hacks his way into campaign conversation

Bloomberg is looming large in ways that his bank account only begins to reflect.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

If it’s too early to be talking about Michael Bloomberg, why is everyone talking about Michael Bloomberg?

It's well known that the former New York City mayor is spending his way into campaign contention, with an unprecedented $381 million -- and counting -- spent on ads, even though he won't be on a single primary ballot until next month.

But this week revealed that Bloomberg is spending his money and his time in other ways that could make him even more of a threat for the Democratic nomination -- providing some insight, perhaps, into why he's under President Donald Trump's skin early.

First, he won the midnight vote in tiny Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, taking both the Democratic and Republican primaries with a grand total of three votes. Bloomberg hijacked an entire day’s worth of election news cycles by simply calling people there, taking inspiration from an episode of “The West Wing” to get publicity even he couldn’t buy.

Then there's what the campaign is calling a "meme strategy," helping make Bloomberg almost cool among the influencer set and beyond. Who else can offer to Venmo a billion bucks?

Meanwhile, highly produced and extremely expensive Bloomberg campaign events are starting to get crowds. Results out of the first states to vote have produced almost a perfect scenario for him: an ascendant Sen. Bernie Sanders, a wounded former Vice President Joe Biden and fears of chaos in the Democratic ranks.

Bloomberg’s record and rhetoric on race -- particularly the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy he now apologized for -- has started to get serious scrutiny. Yet Trump's attacks on the subject -- along with the use of a nickname -- might only help Bloomberg, who can turn legitimate opposition-research hits into a chance to take swipes back at the president.

None of this may be enough to defeat the Sanders machine or a consensus anti-Sanders candidate. But a man Trump derides as "mini Mike" is looming large in ways that his bank account only begins to reflect.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

On the heels of the New Hampshire primary results, early voting in Nevada starts this Saturday, a week before the full caucuses in the state.

The Nevada state party tried to reassure reporters and anxious party officials this week that they were working in overdrive to avoid Iowa-level mishaps and reporting failures. They scrapped their old app and are now providing precinct chairs with new apps, pre-loaded on party-issued iPads. They're also offering personal hotlines to call in their final numbers.

The last 36 hours provided a preview too of the issues that will likely be litigated in the run-up to the first-in-the-West contest. It may seem old, but the debate about “Medicare for All,” has taken on a new dimension.

One of the largest hospitality unions, Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, sent flyers to its members warning that the private health insurance plans that members negotiated and fought for would be negated if Sanders enacted his proposal for government-provided health insurance to everyone instead.

So far, most of the debate about Medicare for All has centered around cost and feasibility. Now, players are looking to debate whether the potential gains outweigh potential losses for union members, a key constituency that most Democrats are aggressively courting.

Make no mistake, Sanders wants to debate his proposal and has never shied away from this core part of his campaign. But will he be able to rebut the opposing arguments in time?

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

The powerful Las Vegas-area Culinary Workers Union announced Thursday it would not weigh in on the Democratic primary race, days before Nevada is set to caucus.

Throughout the cycle, Democrats have been courting the union vote, through their policy platforms, in the way they run their campaigns and by joining the picket lines.

While the union, which represents 60,000 industry workers primarily on the Strip, said it will continue to "endorse its goals," and has taken jabs at Medicare for All -- a cornerstone of Sanders' presidential platform -- its decision to sit on the sidelines shows just how splintered the primary remains.

And with the third nominating contest a little over a week away, in a state where 14% of the workforce is part of a labor union, the group has influence. Even a non-endorsement could potentially boost the one candidate the union was going after.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning's episode features a conversation with ABC News Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas, who discusses his exclusive interview with Attorney General William Barr. Then, ABC News Political Director Rick Klein explains why former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is embracing the "art of the meme." http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

  • President Donald Trump delivers remarks to National Border Patrol Council members at 2:30 p.m. in Washington on Friday. Later, he travels to West Palm Beach, Florida. He is scheduled to attend the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Association of Manufacturers Winter 2020 Board of Directors meeting in Washington at 11 a.m.
  • Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg hosts a fundraising event in San Francisco at 8 a.m. (PST) on Friday. He then speaks via live stream at the National Faith Forum in Las Vegas at 10 a.m. Later, he hosts a fundraising event in Palo Alto, California, at 11:30 a.m. He hosts a town hall in Sacramento, California, at 4 p.m. And attends the Rhapsody in Blue Democratic Dinner in Turlock, California at 6 p.m. On Saturday, he hosts a fundraising event in Seattle at 11 a.m.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., hosts a rally at 11:30 a.m. in Durham, North Carolina, on Friday. He then hosts a rally at 3:30 p.m. in Charlotte, North Carolina. Later, he holds a rally at 8 p.m. (CST) in Mesquite, Texas. On Saturday, he hosts a rally at 10:30 a.m. (PST) in Las Vegas. On Sunday, he holds a rally at noon in Carson City, Nevada. He then leads a rally at 6 p.m. in Denver.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participates in a town hall at 1:30 p.m. (PST) in Reno, Nevada, on Friday.
  • Tom Steyer hosts a meet-and-greet in Las Vegas at 2:15 p.m. (PST) on Friday. He then attends a meet-and-greet event with Nevada Assemblyman Edgar Flores at 4:30 p.m. in Las Vegas.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden hosts an early voting event at 5 p.m. (PST) in Henderson, Nevada, on Friday. On Saturday, he leads an organizing event at 10:30 a.m. in Las Vegas. Later, he participates in an early voting event at 1:30 p.m. in Las Vegas. He then holds a community event at 10 a.m. in Reno, Nevada, on Monday.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., leads a rally at 11:45 a.m. (PST) in Las Vegas on Saturday. On Sunday, she hosts a rally at 2 p.m. in Reno, Nevada. She then hosts a town hall at 11:45 a.m. in Henderson, Nevada, on Monday.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, holds a town hall at 5 p.m. in Portland, Maine, on Saturday.
  • Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg hosts an organizing event at 5:30 p.m. in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday. He then delivers remarks at the Democratic Party of Virginia's Blue Commonwealth Gala in Richmond at 7 p.m.
  • Biden, Buttigieg and Sanders attend the Clark County Democratic Party "Kick-Off To Caucus" Gala in Las Vegas at 7 p.m. (PST) on Saturday
  • Biden and Buttigieg attend the United for Infrastructure's Moving America Forward Forum in Las Vegas at 2 p.m. (PST) on Sunday.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back Tuesday, after the holiday, for the latest.