by N. Peter Kramer
Michael Bloomberg joined the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. But at a time when progressive ideas are on the ascendant, some derided the announcement as a misguided vanity project for a 77-year-old media tycoon. He ran as mayor of New York City as a moderate Republican. He is wielding his $54bn fortune like a bludgeon, I read somewhere. And indeed, money and his success as New York City’s mayor make him a serious candidate for US President, despite a late start. The billionaire is one of 15 Democrats vying for the nomination after Montana governor Steve Bullock, Californian senator Kamala Harris and Joe Sestak, a former lawmaker, dropped out the beginning of December. An average of recent national polls, compiled by RealClearPolitics, showed Mr. Bloomberg with 2,8% support, placing him seventh in the field, significantly after the other septuagenarians Joe Bidden, Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren.
Senator Warren, who has put mega-taxing billionaires at the centre of her candidacy, welcomed Mr. Bloomberg to the race this way: ‘He doesn’t need people. He only needs bags and bags of money’.
His late entry has forced Mr. Bloomberg into an unorthodox election strategy to become the Democratic candidate for the Presidency. Skipping the traditional early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where traditionally successful candidates build momentum, he is putting plans to bet hard on the 14 ‘Super Tuesday’ states that vote on March 3. So, while the rest of the field was fighting in Iowa, Mr. Bloomberg took his plane to Virginia and Arkansas.
He will also wage what he is calling a ‘parallel campaign’ with a $100m digital media assault that includes attacks on President Donald Trump in the so-called battleground states. ‘Part of showing that Mike is the one who can beat Trump is taking the fight to Trump’, said a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson.
But Mr. Bloomberg’s mayoral record poses problems for his efforts to attract black voters, a crucial Democratic constituency. He recently apologised for his longstanding support of a ‘stop-and-frisk’ policing strategy that disproportionately affected minority New Yorkers. Pundits warn that if Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign fails, he could split moderate Democrats and smooth the path for a candidate on the far-left.
There are also resurfaced allegations about a testosterone-fuelled and sexist office culture at Bloomberg LP. Mr. Bloomberg is alleged to have uttered ‘kill it’ when an employee informed him she was pregnant – something he has denied. His assistants say the claims are not new, but they play probably differently after the #MeToo drive against sexual harassment.
Trump bans Bloomberg News journalists from campaign events
After Mr. Bloomberg formally announced his campaign, Bloomberg News editors told the 2700 Bloomberg journalists that it would not conduct investigations into Mr. Bloomberg or his opponents in the Democratic race, in a bid to avoid favouring him. However, the company did not extend the same ban on investigations into President Trump. ‘This is uncharted terrain’, the editorial board explained in a note to readers.
Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, said yesterday that the Bloomberg decision was ‘wrong and troubling’. ‘We are accustomed to unfair reporting practices, but most news organisations don’t announce these biases so publicly’. The Trump campaign will no longer allow Bloomberg News reporters into Trump rallies and other campaign events until Bloomberg News ‘publicly rescinds it decision’, Mr. Parscale added. ‘We will determine whether to engage with individual reporters or answer inquiries from Bloomberg News on a case-by-case basis’, he added.
‘No current Democratic contender can beat Trump’,
‘No current Democratic contender can beat Trump’, according to BET (Black Entertainment Television) founder Robert Johnson, a lifelong Democrat and America’s first black billionaire. He assessed the Democratic contenders in next year’s presidential election and doesn’t like what he sees. ‘If you take a snapshot today, I don’t think that group is capable of beating Donald Trump, despite what the polls say.’ ‘I think the President has always been in a position where it’s his to lose!’, he added.
Johnson has sided with many conservatives in saying Democratic politicians have moved too far left. ‘I don’t see anybody in the Democratic primary race today who is enough in the centre where I believe most of the voters are, and particularly most African Americans are’, Johnson told CNBC.