Bloomberg opens door to 2020 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JULIE PACE AP Wash­ing­ton Bureau Chief

WASH­ING­TON — Michael Bloomberg, the bil­lion­aire for­mer mayor of New York City, is open­ing the door to a 2020 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, warn­ing that the cur­rent field of can­di­dates is ill equipped to de­feat Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Bloomberg, who ini­tially ruled out a 2020 run, has not made a fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether to jump into the race. If he were to launch a cam­paign, it could dra­mat­i­cally re­shape the Demo­cratic con­test less than three months be­fore pri­mary vot­ing be­gins.

The 77-year-old has spent the past few weeks talk­ing with prom­i­nent Democrats about the state of the 2020 field, ex­press­ing con­cerns about the steadi­ness of for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den’s cam­paign and the rise of lib­eral Sen. Mas­sachusetts Elizabeth War­ren, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple with knowl­edge of those dis­cus­sions. In re­cent days, he took steps to keep his op­tions open, in­clud­ing mov­ing to get on the pri­mary bal­lot in Alabama ahead of the state’s Fri­day fil­ing dead­line.

In a state­ment on Thurs­day, Bloomberg ad­viser Howard Wolf­son said the for­mer mayor be­lieves Trump “rep­re­sents an un­prece­dented threat to our na­tion” and

must be de­feated.

“But Mike is in­creas­ingly con­cerned that the cur­rent field of can­di­dates is not well po­si­tioned to do that,” Wolf­son said.

Bloomberg’s moves come as the Demo­cratic race en­ters a cru­cial phase. Bi­den’s front-run­ner status has been vig­or­ously chal­lenged by War­ren and Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders, who are flush with cash from small-dol­lar donors. But both are viewed by some Democrats as too lib­eral to win in a gen­eral elec­tion face­off with Trump.

Bloomberg, a Re­pub­li­can-turned-in­de­pen­dent who reg­is­tered as a Demo­crat last year, has flirted with a pres­i­den­tial run be­fore but ul­ti­mately backed down, in­clud­ing in 2016. He en­dorsed Hil­lary Clin­ton in that race and, in a speech at the Demo­cratic Party con­ven­tion, pum­meled Trump as a con who has over­sold his busi­ness suc­cesses.

Bloomberg plunged his ef­forts – and his money – into gun con­trol ad­vo­cacy and cli­mate change ini­tia­tives. He again looked se­ri­ously at a pres­i­den­tial bid ear­lier this year, trav­el­ing to early vot­ing states and con­duct­ing ex­ten­sive polling, but de­cided not to run in part be­cause of Bi­den’s per­ceived strength.

With im­mense per­sonal wealth, Bloomberg could quickly build out a ro­bust cam­paign op­er­a­tion across the coun­try. Still, his ad­vis­ers ac­knowl­edge that his late en­try to the race could make com­pet­ing in states like Iowa and New Hamp­shire, which have been blan­keted by can­di­dates for nearly a year, dif­fi­cult. In­stead, they pre­viewed a strat­egy that would fo­cus more heav­ily on the March 3 “Su­per Tues­day.”

Michael Bloomberg

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