The former three-term mayor of New York and billionaire businessman sees weakness in the current Democratic field, say aides.
By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — Former New York mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg is positioning himself to enter the Democratic presidential primary, a longtime Bloomberg adviser confirmed to NBC News Thursday.
“Yes and yes,” Kevin Sheekey wrote in an email response to the questions of whether Bloomberg, 77, was preparing to run and collecting signatures in Alabama, moves first reported by the New York Times on Thursday afternoon.
Bloomberg’s rationale for getting in the race now would be that the field of Democrats isn’t strong enough to beat President Donald Trump, according to spokesman Howard Wolfson, who noted that Bloomberg has helped fund Democratic congressional and state legislative campaigns.
“We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated — but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well-positioned to do that,” Wolfson said in a statement to NBC News. “If Mike runs he would offer a new choice to Democrats built on a unique record running America’s biggest city, building a business from scratch and taking on some of America’s toughest challenges as a high-impact philanthropist.”
Bloomberg’s wealth would allow him to compete without having to worry about the fundraising challenges faced by other candidates — but if he were to formally launch a presidential bid, it would almost certainly be a target for progressive rivals such as Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who have been running populist campaigns that argue the rich should be paying more to underwrite programs for the rest.
Bloomberg, one of the wealthiest men in the world and a popular three-term mayor of New York, has flirted with running for president before. But, after exploring a bid earlier this year, he announced in March that he would not run.
“I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election,” he wrote in an opinion column for the Bloomberg news service at the time. “But I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”
But that field has winnowed, and Bloomberg still sees himself beating Trump.
“Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win,” Wolfson said in the statement