I wrote “Unhappy with Clinton, Bloomberg Proves Every Point Sanders Has Ever Made About Billionaires” just two weeks ago. The piece was based on what unnamed sources were telling the New York Times about the plutocrat and former New York City mayor’s presidential aspirations.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Bloomberg confirmed the rumors that he is making up his mind about entering the presidential race. He also told the FT (no full interview has been published as of yet) that “I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” adding that the American public deserves “a lot better,” and that “I’m listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing.”
It has been written, and Bloomberg doesn’t seem to contradict it, that he is dissatisfied with the way Hillary Clinton is managing her campaign, on the one hand, the prospect of a win by fellow billionaire Donald Trump, and a victory of Bernie Sanders over Clinton. It would be very interesting to hear his assessment of the significance of voters choosing Sanders over Clinton and how his own possible candidacy would address that, since a run by Bloomberg surely would not be to the left of Clinton or Sanders.
Hillary Clinton, according to FT, has recently expressed the belief that Bloomberg would only run if she isn’t the winner. However, the earliest the Democratic primary is expected to yield a nominee is in May. With the gap narrowed to single digits between the two candidates left, Clinton and Sanders, it is more likely that Bloomberg, if he enters the race, will do so well before it is known which Democrat will lead the party in the presidential race. Bloomberg has also told FT that he needs to get on state ballots by the beginning of March.
That Bloomberg would deem dismal the level of discourse on the Republican side of the primary is consistent with the views he’s expressed in the past, and his relatively moderate approach to most issues of the day. It remains obvious that Bloomberg’s main concerns lay with what is happening on the Democratic side of the equation. It is more likely than unlikely that Bloomberg feels the presidential race requires his intervention as savior from Clinton’s failure to keep the publicly perceived momentum she had. He has that much of an ego, apparently.
What Bloomberg doesn’t seem to account for is that whatever momentum Clinton has had, these past seven years, it was almost entirely a media invention, as evidenced by Clinton’s repeat performance this election cycle. What is interesting is that Bloomberg has chosen, at this moment, to be quoted directly, rather than have a surrogate confirm his interest in the race. His statement, in and of itself signals a lack of confidence that is sure to sink Clinton a bit further. It also broadcasts, in the most obvious of ways, that to a plutocrat like Bloomberg, only a successful candidacy by Clinton is acceptable. Given the current popular sentiment, he is only doing Sanders a favor by confirming what Sanders has been claiming about money, politics, and the .01%.
Bloomberg is using some of his money to commission a poll to help him determine what his entry into the fray may do. It seems highly unlikely to me that anyone who is attracted to Sanders at the moment, would drop him like a hot potato the instant Bloomberg makes his grand entrance. The core of Sanders’ appeal is the worry about America having become a plutocracy. Just as unlikely is the prospect that Trump’s supporters will run to Bloomberg, although some may. The likeliest scenario is that Bloomberg would draw most of his support from Clinton voters, especially if Sanders continues to close the gap. Either way, the onus on the next Democratic presidential candidate, whomever it is, will be to garner high voter turnout in order to ensure one house of Congress reverts to Democratic control. Without getting one house back, Democratic victory is sure to be hollow.
Will a run by Bloomberg complicate things? Yes, it will, but I don’t think such a run will be detrimental to those Bloomberg intends to intervene against. In a three-way match-up between Trump, Sanders, and Bloomberg, with Clinton having been eliminated in the Democratic primary, I find it inconceivable that Bloomberg will have any success in winning over the Black or Hispanic votes. Should Sanders be able to excite the Democratic base enough to bring about high voter turnouts, then Bloomberg would act as a spoiler for the GOP, taking whatever moderate vote it might still have, ensuring a Democrat wins the White House. A Bloomberg run may well be the catalyst to lighting a fire under voters who are still on the fence. So, bring it on, Michael! Bring it on!
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