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By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Michael Bloomberg (Image source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York via Wikimedia Commons)
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is known to waffle when deciding whether or not to run for president. He’s considered it multiple other election years and even seems to have considered it multiple times for 2020. He is now laying down plans to be a late entry for the next presidential race, feeling like the other candidates just aren’t getting it done,
Bloomberg was the New York City mayor starting in 2002, succeeding Rudy Giuliani. He’s spent time as a Republican, Independent, and Democrat and ended his time as mayor in 2013.
This is the fourth time he has considered running for president, and it’s expected there won’t be a fifth, unless it’s a reelection bid, as he’s the same age as former Vice President Joe Biden.
The two join a collection of older men running: Bloomberg will be 78 on election day, Biden will be days away from turning 78, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will be 79, and Trump will be 74.
He switched back to being a Democrat from an Independent just before the midterm elections last year and wrote checks supporting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Ultimately, Bloomberg decided in March he could get more accomplished as a private citizen than being on the ticket, and he believed he’d have a difficult time beating some of the other candidates, though knew he would beat Trump.
The former mayor plans to file paperwork to declare he is running and has sent staff to Alabama to make sure he gets onto the ballot, as it carries a Friday filing deadline. He’s been making calls to top party officials and has said he will make a formal announcement next week.
One of the reasons he decided not to run in March was because he had thought Biden would be too tough of a competitor, yet that was still seven weeks before Biden officially entered the race. In the time since, Biden’s presence in the race hasn’t been what some expected.
Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg’s adviser, did not mention Biden in his comments. “We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated,” he said.
“But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well-positioned to do that.”
To this point there hasn’t been a standout Democratic contender. Biden has consistently been at the top of the polls, but Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have been at or near the top consistently. Also near the top is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), yet he is struggling to catch on with black voters.
Bloomberg, a billionaire like Trump, has noted his opposition to the plans of Warren and Sanders to raise taxes for the wealthy.
“The billionaire class is scared, and they should be scared,” the Vermont senator tweeted after the news hit that Bloomberg was entering the race.
“Welcome to the race, @MikeBloomberg!” Warren tweeted, along with a link to how her policies would impact billionaires. She also sent out an email that said: “the wealthy and well-connected are scared.”
“We need a healthy economy, and we shouldn’t be embarrassed about our system,” Bloomberg said in January when he was still testing the waters.
“If you want to look at a system that’s not capitalistic, just take a look at what was perhaps the wealthiest country in the world, and today’s people are starving to death. It’s called Venezuela.”
“We ought to be building grass-roots support,” Warren said after her first 2019 campaign event.
“We ought to be building a movement. And the way we do that is with lots of involvement from lots of people. Not having billionaires buy these campaigns, whether we’re talking about super PACs or self-funding.”
It’s entirely possible that Bloomberg will back out of running once again, but he’s going through the motions and filing for the upcoming primary deadlines, making it less likely he’ll drop out again.
“His getting in the race is certainly going to stimulate thought and provocations that weren’t there before,” noted former Senator Harry M. Reid (D-NV) of the former mayor after speaking to him on Thursday.
“Bloomberg doesn’t do things halfway,” he added. “He’s going to stir up some conversation.”
A person familiar with Bloomberg’s thinking pins some of his reversal in his decision to run on the impeachment inquiry.
“As incredibly concerned as Mike was about Trump remaining president, after Ukraine, he became ever more concerned. He is convinced the president is an existential threat,” said the source.
The billionaire has decided to not raise money for a presidential run, and that will exclude him from entering upcoming debates that have rules stipulating candidates need to have a certain number of donors.
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