One day after a disastrous showing in Tuesday’s primaries, Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, announced he was suspending his unconventional bid for president and would endorse Super Tuesday’s surprise winner, Joe Biden.
“Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult,” Bloomberg said in a statement released by his campaign.
“I’m a believer in using data to inform decisions. After yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible — and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists.”
Bloomberg won a smattering of delegates in several races Tuesday, including four in American Samoa, the only contest he won, but fell far short in states he had pinned his hopes on, especially North Carolina, where he was struggling to reach the 15 percent threshold of viability. Biden won that state, along with most of the rest of the South.
A late entrant in the race, Bloomberg was a contender for the Democratic nomination for just under four months. In that time, he used his massive personal fortune — estimated to be around $60 billion — to bombard the nation with ads.
Reuters estimated that Bloomberg spent a record-shattering $452 million toward his run, $312 million of that on advertising alone. Bloomberg spent just shy of $200 million on television ads in Super Tuesday states. The campaign was betting that this unprecedented investment would be enough to win in a divided Democratic field.
Bloomberg’s big bet, however, never paid off.
The former mayor enjoyed some strong polling earlier in the year. But after a pair of rocky debate performances in February, his standing began to dip.
Last-minute dropouts and endorsements threw a wrench into Bloomberg’s plans as well. He had hoped to consolidate the moderate voters wary of progressive candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders. But on Saturday, in one of the contests Bloomberg elected to skip, Biden won the South Carolina primary, reinvigorating his campaign.
In throwing his support to Biden, Bloomberg said: “I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, two other candidates competing for moderate Democrats, dropped out in the days after South Carolina’s primary and endorsed Biden. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, another former presidential candidate, threw his support behind Biden as well. Biden quickly surged in the polls and emerged as the centrist alternative to Sanders, who had performed strongly in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
As Democratic moderates began to coalesce around Biden following the South Carolina primary, Bloomberg’s reasons for staying in the race became more difficult to articulate. In a testy back-and-forth with reporters Tuesday morning, he denied that he would exit the race and said that Biden was taking voters from him, not the other way around.
“Joe’s taking votes away from me,” Bloomberg said in Miami’s Little Havana. “Have you asked Joe whether he’s going to drop out?
“I have no intention of dropping out,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg spent Super Tuesday crisscrossing Florida, a state that doesn’t vote until March 17. When asked about his thoughts on the possibility of a contested Democratic convention this summer, he admitted: “Well, I don’t think I can win any other way.”
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