Bloomberg open to a run at Dem nom­i­na­tion

The Record (Troy, NY) - - 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 Mas­sachusetts Sen. 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.

Trump told re­porters Fri­day that Bloomberg might well spend “a lot of money” but “doesn’t have the magic to do well.” Trump sug­gested he’d eas­ily beat the for­mer mayor and fel­low bil­lion­aire.

“Lit­tle Michael will fail,” Trump said at the White House, adding: “There is no­body I’d rather run against than Lit­tle Michael, that I can tell you.”

De­spite a his­tor­i­cally large field, some Democrats anx­ious about de­feat­ing Trump have been look­ing for other op­tions. For­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder and for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. De­val Pa­trick have qui­etly had con­versa

tions with sup­port­ers urg­ing them to con­sider a run, but nei­ther ap­pears likely to get in the race.

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.

Bi­den did not ad­dress Bloomberg’s po­ten­tial can­di­dacy at a fundraiser Thurs­day night in Bos­ton.

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” con­tests, in­clud­ing in del­e­gate-rich Cal­i­for­nia.

Some Democrats were skep­ti­cal there would be a groundswel­l of in­ter­est in the for­mer New York mayor.

“There are smart and in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in the Demo­cratic Party who think a can­di­date like Bloomberg is needed,” said Jen­nifer Palmieri, who ad­vised Clin­ton’s 2016 cam­paign. “But there is zero ev­i­dence that rank- and-file vot­ers in the early states of Iowa and New Hamp­shire feel the same.”

Still, oth­ers cred­ited Bloomberg with tak­ing on “some of Amer­ica’s big­gest chal­lenges” and find­ing suc­cess.

“While this is not an en­dorse­ment, Michael Bloomberg is a friend and I ad­mire his track record as a suc­cess­ful busi­ness leader and Mayor who finds prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions to some of Amer­ica’s big­gest chal­lenges, from cre­at­ing good jobs to ad­dress­ing the opi­oid cri­sis and fight­ing for com­mon-sense gun safety,” said Rhode Is­land Gov. Gina Rai­mondo, a Demo­crat.

Bloomberg reached out to sev­eral prom­i­nent Democrats on Thurs­day, in­clud­ing Rai­mondo. One Demo­crat Bloomberg hasn’t spo­ken to as he’s re­con­sid­ered his run is for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

Bloomberg would pose an im­me­di­ate ide­o­log­i­cal chal­lenge to Bi­den, who is run­ning as a mod­er­ate and hopes to ap­peal to in­de­pen­dents and Repub­li­cans who have soured on Trump. But the bil­lion­aire me­dia mogul with deep Wall Street ties could also en­er­gize sup­port­ers of War­ren and San­ders, who have railed against in­come in­equal­ity and have vowed to ratchet up taxes on the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans.

“He’s a lit­eral bil­lion­aire en­ter­ing the race to keep the pro­gres­sives from win­ning,” said Re­becca Katz, a New York-based lib­eral Demo­cratic strate­gist. “He is the foil.”

War­ren on Thurs­day tweeted: “Wel­come to the race, @MikeBloomb­erg!” and linked to her cam­paign web­site, say­ing he would find there “pol­icy plans that will make a huge dif­fer­ence for work­ing peo­ple and which are very pop­u­lar.”

Bloomberg would face other chal­lenges as well, par­tic­u­larly scru­tiny of his three terms as mayor. He has de­fended the New York

Po­lice De­part­ment’s use of the con­tro­ver­sial stop-and­frisk pol­icy that has been crit­i­cized as tar­get­ing African Amer­i­cans and His­pan­ics. Black vot­ers in par­tic­u­lar are one of the most pow­er­ful con­stituen­cies in Demo­cratic pol­i­tics.

Bloomberg will have to move quickly in the com­ing days and weeks to get on the bal­lot in many of the pri­mary states, in­clud­ing Alabama. NewHamp­shire’s fil­ing dead­line is Nov. 15.

In Arkansas, an­other Su­per Tues­day state, a Demo­cratic Party spokesman said a per­son rep­re­sent­ing a “mys­tery can­di­date” reached out Thurs­day af­ter­noon ask­ing about the re­quire­ments to join the bal­lot. Reed Brewer, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for the Arkansas Democrats, said he walked the in­di­vid­ual through the process — which sim­ply re­quires fil­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion with both the state party and sec­re­tary of state, as well as pay­ing a $2,500 fee — and was as­sured that the fee would be “no prob­lem” for the mys­tery can­di­date.

There is no fil­ing re­quire­ment for a can­di­date to run in the Iowa cau­cuses, which are a series of Demo­cratic Party meet­ings, not staterun elec­tions. It means a can­di­date can en­ter the race for the Feb. 3 lead­off con­test at any time.

JOHN LOCHER — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

For­mer New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a news con­fer­ence at a gun con­trol ad­vo­cacy event in Las Ve­gas. Bloomberg has opened door to a po­ten­tial pres­i­den­tial run, say­ing the Demo­cratic field ‘not well po­si­tioned’ to de­feat Trump.

PHE­LAN M. EBENHACK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

For­mer New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg an­swers a ques­tion dur­ing an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press in Or­lando, Fla. Bloomberg, the bil­lion­aire for­mer mayor of New York City, is open­ing the door to a 2020pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Bloomberg an­nounced ear­lier this year that he would not seek the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion.

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