Bloomberg flirts with White House bid

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Bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Michael Bloomberg was po­si­tion­ing him­self yes­ter­day to en­ter the crowded race for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, set­ting up a po­ten­tial show­down with fel­low sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian Joe Bi­den as the lead­ing cen­trist can­di­date. Bloomberg, the 77-year-old for­mer three-term mayor of New York, is ex­pected to file paper­work in at least one state declar­ing him­self a 2020 can­di­date — although some ob­servers cau­tioned he may sim­ply be keep­ing his op­tions open as he flirts with a White House bid.

Trump dis­misses ‘lit­tle’ Bloomberg’s likely White House run

For­mer New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is strongly con­sid­er­ing en­ter­ing the race for the 2020 US Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, a move that could greatly dis­rupt the field just three months be­fore the first nom­i­nat­ing con­tests.

Bloomberg, the bil­lion­aire me­dia mogul and phi­lan­thropist who served three terms as mayor of Amer­ica’s largest city, is scep­ti­cal that any of the cur­rent crop of Demo­cratic can­di­dates can de­feat Re­pub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in next year’s gen­eral elec­tion, a spokesman said.

“Mike is in­creas­ingly con­cerned that the cur­rent field of can­di­dates is not well po­si­tioned to” beat Trump, Bloomberg spokesman Howard Wolf­son said in a state­ment.

Bloomberg, 77, is ex­pected to file paper­work this week to run in the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial pri­mary in Alabama, which has an early dead­line for qual­i­fy­ing for the bal­lot.

That would keep his op­tions open for a pos­si­ble White House bid, a source fa­mil­iar with Bloomberg’s think­ing told Reuters.

The Demo­cratic field, now num­ber­ing 17 can­di­dates, has co­a­lesced into four top con­tenders ac­cord­ing to re­cent polls: US Sen­a­tors El­iz­a­beth War­ren and Bernie San­ders, who rep­re­sent the party’s pro­gres­sive wing, and for­mer vice-pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and Mayor Pete But­tigieg, of South Bend, In­di­ana, rep­re­sent­ing the more mod­er­ate wing.

Bloomberg, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and founder of Bloomberg LP, served as New York’s mayor from 2002 to 2013 and has been a lead­ing ad­vo­cate and phi­lan­thropist on the is­sues of cli­mate change and gun vi­o­lence.

“If Mike runs, he would of­fer a new choice to Democrats built on a unique record run­ning Amer­ica’s big­gest city, build­ing a busi­ness from scratch and tak­ing on some of Amer­ica’s tough­est chal­lenges as a high-im­pact phi­lan­thropist,” Wolf­son said. “Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win.”

Asked about Bloomberg in a Fox News Chan­nel in­ter­view, White House spokes­woman Stephanie Gr­isham said Trump “has got the re­sults to show that he’s do­ing great things for the Amer­i­can peo­ple, so it doesn’t mat­ter who ends up run­ning against him – the pres­i­dent will win.”

Bloomberg has been crit­i­cal of War­ren and her plan to in­sti­tute a tax on the su­per­rich if she is elected pres­i­dent to fund pro­grammes rang­ing from universal health­care to free col­lege tu­ition.

If Bloomberg were to en­ter the race, he would likely com­pete with can­di­dates such as Bi­den and But­tigieg as a mod­er­ate al­ter­na­tive to War­ren’s pop­ulist pro­gres­sivism.

But he would likely face a dif­fi­cult road with the lib­eral wing of the party con­cerned about cor­po­rate money in pol­i­tics and in­come in­equal­ity in Amer­ica.

Tom Steyer, a bil­lion­aire can­di­date from Cal­i­for­nia who has made cli­mate change a cen­tre­piece of his cam­paign, has spent mil­lions only to see his bid lan­guish amid crit­i­cism from his ri­vals for try­ing to buy his way into the elec­tion.

“More bil­lion­aires seek­ing more po­lit­i­cal power surely isn’t the change Amer­ica needs,” said San­ders’ cam­paign man­ager, Faiz Shakir.

War­ren re­sponded to the news of Bloomberg’s prepa­ra­tions by tweet­ing at him with a link that showed how much he would pay un­der her wealth tax.

Bloomberg, whom Forbes ranks as the eighth rich­est Amer­i­can with an es­ti­mated worth of $53.4bn, would be able to largely fund his cam­paign him­self, per­haps al­low­ing him to ramp up his can­di­dacy quickly.

Still, he would have to build a mul­ti­state or­gan­i­sa­tion on the fly.

At age 77 he would be the sec­ond old­est can­di­date among the Demo­cratic con­tenders, be­hind San­ders, who is 78. Bi­den is 76 and War­ren is 70. On the Re­pub­li­can side, Trump is 73.

The Iowa cau­cuses, the first nom­i­nat­ing con­test on the Demo­cratic pri­mary cal­en­dar, will be held on Fe­bru­ary 3.

Trump mean­while mocked Bloomberg, say­ing that his po­ten­tial op­po­nent for the 2020 elec­tion would fail if he joined the race.

“He doesn’t have the magic to do well ... Lit­tle Michael will fail,” Trump told re­porters at the White House as he headed to the south­ern state of Ge­or­gia to rally sup­port.

“He’s not go­ing to do well, but I think he’s go­ing to hurt Bi­den ac­tu­ally,” Trump added. “There’s no­body I’d rather run against than Lit­tle Michael.”

Bloomberg: scep­ti­cal that any of the cur­rent crop of Demo­cratic can­di­dates can de­feat Trump in next year’s gen­eral elec­tion.

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