Los Angeles Times
A new 2016 twist, from the center
WASHINGTON — The prospect of billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg launching an independent presidential bid dropped new uncertainty into an already highly unusual 2016 primary season.
The former New York mayor has fostered presidential aspirations before. But the 73-year-old appears, like many Americans watching the raucous primary campaign, to be seeking a dose of stability in the race.
“His advisors and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side,” according to the New York Times, which first reported he was considering a run. Bloomberg would be willing to spend $1 billion of his own money, the story said.
Coming just more than a week before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses kick off the nominating process, Bloomberg ’s intentions throw new political calculations into an already topsy-turvy race.
A Bloomberg candidacy could cut several ways in a three-person race as an independent challenging the two parties’ nominees.
Bloomberg’s campaigns against sugar-laden soda drinks and his efforts to stem gun violence may attract voters who hew toward Democrats, potentially stripping votes from that party’s nominee. His ties to Wall Street, however, could sour some seeking more populist leadership.
At the same time, he could have sway with more moderate-minded Republicans who would be uncomfortable if Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas emerged as the party’s nominee.
Bloomberg appears to be weighing these and other factors, according to the report, and has set an early March deadline for reaching a decision.
He is said to be most interested in making a bid if Democrats nominate Sanders and Republicans nominate Trump or Cruz. In such a case, Bloomberg apparently believes he would draw support from moderates in both parties.
Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler welcomed a possible Bloomberg bid, saying the former mayor’s controversial positions would be easy to run against.
“I don’t want to get my hopes up that the 2016 campaign could be about gun control, cap-and-trade and Big Gulps,” he said. “Please, please run!”