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Billionaires eyeing White House visit early primary states

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, center, looks at solar panels with former Paulson Electric Company president Ron Olson, left, and Iowa State Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, right, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Nei

Billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in Iowa Tuesday he would do everything he can to make climate change the defining issue of the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating campaign.

Posted: Dec 4, 2018 2:32 PM

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in Iowa Tuesday he would do everything he can to make climate change the defining issue of the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating campaign, despite resistance in regions of the country his party would likely need to recapture the White House.

Like Bloomberg, who was making his maiden trip to the leadoff caucus state as a presidential prospect, fellow billionaire Tom Steyer was also taking his message of fighting climate change to South Carolina, the nation's first Southern primary state. Steyer is also weighing a 2020 Democratic presidential bid.

The two deep-pocketed Democrats were making parallel moves Tuesday, with Bloomberg visiting renewable energy sites in Iowa and meeting with gun-control advocates, while Steyer planned to host a town hall-style meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.

"I will do everything for sure to try to make it the issue," Bloomberg told reporters after visiting a solar-electric panel installation company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "Every place I have gone, people always want to talk about the climate. They always want to bring up the fact that I've been very active in closing coal-fired power plants."

Both men have been noncommittal about whether they will run for president in 2020. But with as many as two dozen Democrats considering a campaign, they were joining the growing list of visitors to early voting primary and caucus states. Iowa is scheduled to host the leadoff caucus state in February 2020.

While both men put the climate atop their agendas, and have spent millions promoting awareness and solutions, they could face skepticism in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where President Donald Trump won in 2016 by promising to protect the coal industry.

Bloomberg has said Trump is not suitable for the presidency, and elaborated Tuesday. "It's an inquisitiveness issue and a willingness to look at data and look at facts," he said, noting Trump's comment that he did not believe his administration's report projecting dire consequences of climate change.

Despite their common wealth and climate change advocacy, Bloomberg and Steyer disagree on a key point.

Steyer aired ads throughout the year advocating for Trump's impeachment, based on indictments of aides to the president's campaign.

Bloomberg, however, said, "It would be a mistake to say anything about that before you see what comes out of the investigation" into Russian election meddling being conducted by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

While Bloomberg made his Iowa debut on an icy rooftop under light snow in bracing 26 degrees, Steyer headed for the more temperate South Carolina Coast.

The two spent millions during the 2018 midterm campaigns to help Democrats regain control of the House.

Jumping off that success, their travel gives them new opportunities to test their message and, perhaps most importantly, gauge the interest of Democratic primary voters and activists in the potential candidacies.

In the Des Moines area, Bloomberg was visiting a community college's wind-energy program and was scheduled to meet with mothers organized to curb gun violence before attending a screening of his climate change film, "Paris to Pittsburgh."

Dale Todd, a Democratic city councilman from Cedar Rapids, praised Bloomberg for his business success and for spending tens of millions of dollars to promote awareness of Democratic priorities, but had reservations.

"There is the age question for me. It shouldn't prohibit him from running, but it's a concern for me," Todd said of the 76-year-old Bloomberg. "Whoever I support I'd like to be around for a bit of time. I would hate to put a big investment in someone that old and have something happen to them."

Todd was an early backer of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign and has provided some early help to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who is also eyeing a White House bid. Todd said he's looking for a presidential nominee to represent emerging generations of party leaders.

Bloomberg contributed $250,000 to the Iowa Democratic Party this year, giving him some claim to gains such as capturing two Republican-held House seats last month. He also has plans to meet with key Democratic operatives. But other potential candidates, including Booker, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, have been more aggressive in their efforts.

Bloomberg said in a recent Associated Press interview he would have to be close to a decision by mid-January, and said Tuesday that in the meantime, "I get to go around and to ask people in Iowa what's on your mind."

Steyer, also told the AP recently he was still considering whether to run and how he could have the biggest impact.

If he did jump into the race, Steyer would have at his disposal the more than 6 million person email list from his Need to Impeach campaign against Trump, as well as the resources of his advocacy group, NextGen America.

Steyer resisted comparisons between his efforts and Bloomberg's and argued that the former mayor — he recently re-registered as a Democrat — "has tried to be very bipartisan" and hasn't always supported the party. Bloomberg gave almost exclusively to Democrats during the 2018 cycle.

"We're really trying to build a grassroots infrastructure and the broadest democracy, and he's much more focused on winning specific races," Steyer said. "We're making a long-term commitment and building an organization. One of the things I say, which I think is true, is that we didn't just get young people to vote. We turned them into voters. They'll hopefully think of themselves very differently in 2020."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 603966

Reported Deaths: 7611
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1248011773
Ramsey52461895
Dakota46789470
Anoka42717458
Washington27397290
Stearns22550224
St. Louis18128312
Scott17543134
Wright16403148
Olmsted13388102
Sherburne1200194
Carver1066148
Clay825592
Rice8186110
Blue Earth762343
Crow Wing681594
Kandiyohi667285
Chisago619552
Otter Tail585684
Benton582998
Goodhue483473
Douglas475381
Mower470733
Winona461151
Itasca458963
Isanti439764
McLeod429861
Morrison424462
Nobles407950
Beltrami407360
Steele397616
Polk389072
Becker386555
Lyon363853
Carlton352756
Freeborn346932
Pine335023
Nicollet331045
Mille Lacs311454
Brown307840
Le Sueur297125
Cass285832
Todd285632
Meeker263042
Waseca237823
Martin234932
Roseau211021
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196041
Dodge18773
Renville182446
Redwood176338
Houston174616
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Wadena162723
Fillmore157410
Faribault154319
Chippewa153938
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138737
Watonwan13589
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116626
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11296
Murray107010
Swift106918
Koochiching94917
Stevens92411
Clearwater89116
Marshall88717
Wilkin83112
Lake83020
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5938
Lincoln5843
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48093
Red Lake4017
Traverse3755
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 370754

Reported Deaths: 6042
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58203638
Linn21197339
Scott20297246
Black Hawk16085312
Woodbury15232230
Johnson1461185
Dubuque13502211
Dallas1128999
Pottawattamie11219174
Story1070948
Warren583791
Clinton561493
Cerro Gordo553593
Sioux516974
Webster515294
Muscatine4878106
Marshall486576
Des Moines466970
Wapello4335122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421072
Plymouth402981
Lee381956
Marion366076
Jones300857
Henry294237
Bremer287860
Carroll286852
Boone268534
Crawford268440
Benton259655
Washington257051
Dickinson249444
Mahaska232351
Jackson225242
Clay216627
Kossuth216166
Tama211771
Delaware210943
Winneshiek198135
Page194522
Buchanan193433
Cedar192123
Hardin187444
Fayette186543
Wright185840
Hamilton181851
Harrison179973
Clayton171057
Butler166035
Madison164619
Mills163324
Floyd163042
Cherokee159438
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152552
Hancock150134
Iowa149824
Winnebago144431
Cass139155
Calhoun138913
Grundy137133
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131437
Sac130820
Union129935
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124617
Franklin123323
Guthrie123132
Humboldt119526
Palo Alto113523
Howard104922
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96432
Monroe96230
Unassigned9560
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7598
Taylor66712
Fremont6269
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