Who likes Mike? The billionaire Michael Bloomberg has ended years of speculation by announcing that he is running to be president in 2020.
You can see his twinkling piano new campaign ad here. The video pitches him as the reluctant hero who always steps up when America needs him. Keep those inspiring chord changes coming: it’s the sound of a hundred political consultants getting very rich.
I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America.
I believe my unique set of experiences in business, government, and philanthropy will enable me to win and lead.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) November 24, 2019
Bloomberg, who is considerably richer than the man in the White House, long ago put aside an enormous slush fund to stop Trump winning re-election.
He probably would have been willing to throw his enormous financial muscle behind a Democrat he rated. But Bloomberg has now acknowledged a truth, one I wrote about for the magazine three weeks ago — the Democrats seem embarrassingly unable to produce a candidate who can beat Trump at the ballot. With 70 days to go until the Iowa caucuses, the situation is getting desperate. Enter Mike — armed with an outrageously large campaign treasure chest and a data operation most candidates would kill for.
Everybody knows the lane for a good moderate candidate is wide open. Democrats have started to hype the possibility of a Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton rematch — including Hillary herself. ‘Don’t tempt me,’ she tweeted, after Trump teasingly suggested that she run again, and in her recent tour of London she repeatedly hinted she might take on that ‘gutsy’ challenge.
Maybe that’s why Bloomberg has entered the race again — to save centrists from having to support Hillary Clinton again. For that service to humanity, perhaps he deserves to win.
Certainly, he’ll be eager to take on Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, who is still the bookies’ favorite to be nominee. Ever since she released ‘Medicare-for-all’ plan, to very little acclaim, her candidacy seems to have derailed. Her radical agenda unravels on close inspection.
Bloomberg may be more alarmed — and more motivated to run — by the threat of Bernie Sanders, who after a poor start to his campaign and a heart attack, is starting to surge again in the polls as Iowa approaches.
Pop celebrities such as Cardi B, Ariana Grande (sort of) and, er, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez like him because, with his slightly grumpy socialism, he feels more authentic and retro than the others. It’s the same reason Lily Allen likes Jeremy Corbyn in Britain.
Trend-oriented progressives can also tell that the billionaire class — aka Bloomberg — fears Sanders most of all. Bernie is cool in a way that Bloomberg, a famously nanny statist mayor of New York, just isn’t.
Indeed, Sanders vs Bloomberg is shaping into quite a contest already. Bernie said he was ‘disgusted’ by Bloomberg’s proposed $30 million campaign advertising blitz — an attempt, he said, ‘to buy’ the election.
Sanders also issued the following acid remark: ‘Jeff Bezos, worth $150 billion, supporting Mike Bloomberg, who’s worth only $50 billion, that’s real class solidarity.’
Feel the Bern! Bloomberg’s emergence seems to have given Sanders exactly the boost he needed.
Bernie thrived in 2016 because he played the vital role of nemesis to arch-elitist Hillary. That clear purpose has been somewhat lacking in his 2020 effort so far. He may just have found it.
With Bloomberg in the field, Bernie’s supporters will see the very incarnation of the arrogant billionaire class they so loathe (more so, in fact, than they hate Donald Trump). Far from energizing moderate voters, Bloomberg might just fire up the Democratic left, which is currently muddled and consumed by resisting Trump and impeachment.
Indeed, if Bernie goes on to win the nomination and the White House, he may well look back on Bloomberg’s entrance into the race as the key moment. Just look at his latest ad:
I may not be a billionaire. We may not have a super PAC. That’s fine. Because we have a historic movement of millions of people that is far more powerful than big checks from a few rich folks.
Make a donation to help us take on the billionaires trying to buy this race and WIN.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 16, 2019
It’s widely said that Bloomberg is entering the race because Joe Biden’s candidacy has been so doddery so far. Still, as Biden himself likes to point out, he remains miles ahead in the polls — despite being so widely dismissed.
Yet Bloomberg could end up eating into Biden’s more moderate support, as well as checking the rise of that another more centrist challenger, Pete Buttigieg. This again would only help Sanders as he overtakes Warren on her left. Bloomberg may see his job as reversing the Democrats’ leftward lurch, but his running could easily trip up the only candidates who could stop Bernie.
In this age of anti-politics, rich campaigners often end up achieving the exact opposite of what they intend to do. The elite eats itself, again. And Michael Bloomberg could well end up making Bernie Sanders president.