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Bloomberg wants to make 2020 a 'Battle of the Billionaires'

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg

Former New York City mayor officially launches his campaign for President.

Posted: Nov 24, 2019 1:19 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men, has formally launched a Democratic bid for president.

Ending weeks of speculation, the 77-year-old former Republican announced his candidacy Sunday in a written statement posted on a campaign website describing himself as uniquely positioned to defeat President Donald Trump. He will quickly follow with a massive advertising campaign blanketing airways in key primary states across the U.S.

“I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,” Bloomberg wrote.

“We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions,” he continued. “He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage.”

Bloomberg’s entrance comes just 10 weeks before primary voting begins, an unorthodox move that reflects anxiety within the Democratic Party about the strength of its current candidates.

As a centrist with deep ties to Wall Street, Bloomberg is expected to struggle among the party’s energized progressive base. He became a Democrat only last year. Yet his tremendous resources and moderate profile could be appealing in a primary contest that has become, above all, a quest to find the person best-positioned to deny Trump a second term next November.

Forbes ranked Bloomberg as the 11th-richest person in the world last year with a net worth of roughly $50 billion. Trump, by contrast, was ranked 259th with a net worth of just over $3 billion.

Already, Bloomberg has vowed to spend at least $150 million of his fortune on various pieces of a 2020 campaign, including more than $100 million for internet ads attacking Trump, between $15 million and $20 million on a voter registration drive largely targeting minority voters, and more than $30 million on an initial round of television ads.

He did not say how much he would be willing to spend overall on his presidential ambitions, but senior adviser Howard Wolfson did: “Whatever it takes to defeat Donald Trump.”

Wolfson also said that Bloomberg would not accept a single political donation for his campaign or take a salary should he become president.

Even before the announcement was final, Democratic rivals like Bernie Sanders pounced on Bloomberg’s plans to rely on his personal fortune.

“I’m disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any billionaire thinks they can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy elections,” Sanders tweeted on Friday.

Elizabeth Warren, another leading progressive candidate, also slammed Bloomberg on Saturday for trying to buy the presidency.

"I understand that rich people are going to have more shoes than the rest of us, they're going to have more cars than the rest of us, they're going to have more houses,” she said after a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire. “But they don't get a bigger share of democracy, especially in a Democratic primary. We need to be doing the face-to-face work that lifts every voice."

Bloomberg does not speak in his announcement video, which casts him as a successful businessman who came from humble roots and ultimately “put his money where his heart is” to effect change on the top policy issues of the day — gun violence, climate change, immigration and equality, among them.

Bloomberg has devoted tens of millions of dollars to pursue his policy priorities in recent years, producing measurable progress in cities and states across America. He has helped shutter 282 coal plants in the United States and organized a coalition of American cities on track to cut 75 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2025.

But he is far from a left-wing ideologue.

Bloomberg has declined to embrace Medicare for All as a health care prescription or the “Green New Deal” to combat climate change, favoring a more pragmatic approach.

Still, he has endeared himself to many of the nation’s mayors, having made huge investments to help train local officials and encouraging them to take action on climate, guns and immigration in particular.

Ahead of Bloomberg’s presidential announcement, the mayors of Columbia, South Carolina, and Louisville, Kentucky, endorsed him. Despite that show of support from at least one prominent black leader, Bloomberg may have trouble building a multi-racial coalition early on given his turbulent record on race relations in New York.

He angered many minority voters during his 12 years in the New York City mayor’s office for embracing and defending the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police strategy, despite its disproportionate impact on people of color. Facing an African-American congregation this month in Brooklyn, Bloomberg apologized and acknowledged it often led to the detention of blacks and Latinos.

The apology was received skeptically by many prominent activists who noted that it was made as he was taking steps to enter the race.

The campaign will be headquartered in Manhattan and managed by longtime adviser Kevin Sheekey. Wolfson will also play a senior role.

Bloomberg’s team did not establish a super PAC before launching the campaign, preferring to run the primary campaign and a simultaneous set of general election-focused moves like the anti-Trump internet ads and voter registration drive out of the same office.

The path ahead may be decidedly uphill and unfamiliar.

Bloomberg plans to bypass the first four states on the primary calendar — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — and focus instead on the crush of states that vote on Super Tuesday and beyond. It's a strategy that acknowledges the limitations of entering the race at this late stage and the opportunities afforded by his vast personal wealth.

His team has noted that several candidates have devoted much of the year to building support on the ground in the earliest states, and Bloomberg needs to be realistic about where he can make up ground.

Nearly a quarter of primary delegates are up for grabs in the March 3 Super Tuesday contests, which have gotten far less attention so far.

Bloomberg has openly considered a presidential bid before, but as an independent. He declined to enter the 2016 contest only after deciding there was no path to victory without the backing of a major political party.

He explored a run earlier this year, too, but decided there was no path with establishment-favorite Joe Biden in the race. Biden’s perceived weakness, along with the rise of progressive firebrand Warren, convinced him to reconsider.

“We believe that voters are increasingly concerned that the field is not well positioned to defeat Donald Trump,” Wolfson said of Bloomberg’s decision to change his mind.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway actually praised Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor when asked about his announcement Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” But she said his entrance into the 2020 race “means the Democratic field is underwhelming.”

Should Bloomberg ultimately become the nominee to take on Trump, she said, “We’re ready.”

Conway cast doubt on whether he’d be welcomed by Democratic voters.

Initially registered as a Democrat, Bloomberg, a Massachusetts native, filed paperwork to change his voter registration to Republican in 2000 before his first run for New York City mayor, according to a spokesman. In June 2007, he unenrolled from the GOP, having no formal party affiliation until he registered again as a Democrat this October.

While some will question his newfound commitment to Democrats, he vowed allegiance to the party in an Associated Press interview earlier in the year, saying, “I will be a Democrat for the rest of my life.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 327477

Reported Deaths: 3751
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin688981130
Ramsey28948512
Anoka23196232
Dakota23102194
Washington14590120
Stearns14314121
St. Louis9280117
Scott881056
Wright827145
Olmsted702536
Sherburne608243
Clay521359
Carver501315
Kandiyohi432024
Rice427738
Blue Earth426617
Crow Wing376237
Otter Tail332725
Chisago326914
Benton317253
Nobles313731
Winona292031
Douglas278439
Mower270623
Polk266226
Morrison241730
Lyon228712
Beltrami227518
McLeod226517
Becker217619
Goodhue216930
Steele20568
Itasca202223
Isanti199517
Carlton198417
Todd187414
Nicollet169426
Mille Lacs161231
Freeborn15966
Le Sueur153511
Brown151015
Cass149910
Pine14298
Waseca141811
Meeker139011
Roseau12475
Martin121221
Hubbard117728
Wabasha11041
Redwood101720
Chippewa9508
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Renville92729
Dodge9110
Watonwan8824
Wadena8537
Sibley8194
Rock8019
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Fillmore7480
Pipestone74718
Kanabec67714
Yellow Medicine67612
Pennington6758
Swift6149
Murray6064
Faribault5902
Pope5641
Clearwater5389
Stevens5333
Marshall5289
Jackson5181
Lake4437
Wilkin4115
Koochiching4106
Lac qui Parle3984
Unassigned38259
Lincoln3721
Norman3638
Big Stone3332
Mahnomen3164
Grant2956
Kittson2408
Red Lake2283
Traverse1521
Lake of the Woods1021
Cook790

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 234817

Reported Deaths: 2486
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34631341
Linn14655168
Scott1166189
Black Hawk11194139
Woodbury10622133
Johnson979337
Dubuque941594
Story698323
Pottawattamie664871
Dallas657159
Sioux380529
Webster371639
Cerro Gordo367649
Marshall357647
Clinton341444
Buena Vista313114
Des Moines298621
Muscatine298271
Warren291714
Plymouth284444
Wapello263772
Jones235917
Jasper229746
Lee225617
Marion210222
Carroll203624
Bremer200212
Henry19137
Crawford181016
Benton174023
Tama156641
Washington149715
Jackson148814
Delaware147021
Dickinson143811
Boone142412
Mahaska133328
Wright13007
Clay12254
Buchanan122010
Hardin121011
Hamilton117713
Page11664
Kossuth11608
Clayton11399
Cedar112513
Harrison110832
Floyd110219
Calhoun10907
Fayette108712
Mills10858
Lyon10619
Butler10576
Winneshiek102713
Poweshiek102013
Iowa100213
Winnebago94825
Cherokee9474
Chickasaw9084
Hancock9008
Sac8978
Louisa89321
Grundy88911
Allamakee87013
Mitchell8369
Cass83524
Union8166
Appanoose80713
Humboldt8015
Shelby79511
Emmet78626
Guthrie77115
Franklin76021
Jefferson7512
Madison7174
Unassigned7050
Palo Alto6734
Keokuk6477
Pocahontas5984
Howard5809
Osceola5411
Greene5401
Ida53013
Clarke5004
Montgomery49311
Davis4819
Taylor4773
Monona4516
Monroe45113
Adair4489
Worth3820
Van Buren3755
Fremont3743
Lucas3376
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