Is Mike Bloomberg Running for President?

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Billionaire Michael Bloomberg — dissatisfied with the Democratic field and eager to put the brakes on an Elizabeth Warren nomination — is reportedly ramping up a presidential bid. While he has not fully committed to a run, the former New York City mayor is likely to file formal paperwork as a candidate in Alabama, which has a Friday deadline to qualify for the state’s primary.

The reports of Bloomberg’s possible run — in the New York Times and New York Post — quote both named and unnamed advisers who say Bloomberg will make his decision quickly. The Times quotes adviser Howard Wolfson as saying Bloomberg sees Trump as an “unprecedented threat to our nation,” but that “Mike is increasingly concerned” that the current crop of Democrats can’t beat him. The Post quotes a Bloomberg confidante as saying the could-be candidate believes “Trump will get re-elected if Elizabeth Warren is the nominee. That’s not something any Democrat would want.”

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The 77-year-old Bloomberg — a former Republican who made his fortune selling expensive trading terminals to Wall Street — had previously ruled out a 2020 run in March. But the struggle by former vice president Joe Biden to assert himself as the Democratic front-runner reportedly sparked Bloomberg to reconsider, according to news reports from mid-October.

With a net worth of more than $50 billion, Bloomberg would be subject to Warren’s wealth tax proposals, the revenue from which she targets to finance Medicare for All and student loan forgiveness among other social programs. Bloomberg has called Warren’s tax plans “probably … unconstitutional.”

Wolfson touted Bloomberg’s “unique record” in government, business, and “high-impact” philanthropy. Bloomberg served as mayor of New York City for three terms starting in 2001. In a party that has moved strongly to support criminal justice reform, Bloomberg’s record on stop-and-frisk policing is likely to prove a significant liability in the Democratic primary. But Bloomberg’s spending on gun control has also earned him significant political capital among some progressives.

The chatter about a Bloomberg presidential bid comes on the heels of big political victories in Virginia this week. The Bloomberg-backed anti-gun-violence organization Everytown outspent the NRA by a more than $2 million, and helped Democrats sweep to control in both houses of the state legislature.

Bloomberg has threatened to run and backed off numerous times in the past, so skepticism of this bid chatter is appropriate. Bloomberg also made a fairly convincing case against his candidacy in an interview after opting not to run in March:

He highlighted that he’d be very old at inauguration — “to start a four year job, maybe an eight year job, at age 79 may not be the smartest thing to do” — and said the makeup of the Democratic electorate in 2020 meant he “couldn’t see a path to the nomination” for himself “unless I was willing to change all my views and go out… on an apology tour,” dinging Biden for apologizing for being a white male over 50. Bloomberg concluded with a spirited defense of the 1996 crime bill that accelerated American mass incarceration, saying of liberals: “They should have loved that, they never even bothered to read it.”

 

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