Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering launching a third-party bid for the White House, NBC News confirmed Saturday. Bloomberg would likely only run if either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz was the Republican nominee and Bernie Sanders the Democratic nominee, according to a source familiar with Bloomberg’s thinking…
Bloomberg told NBC News’ Chuck Todd in October that he was “very flattered” people would ask him about running for president, but he didn’t tip his hand on a decision. “The truth of the matter is I’m very happy doing two things: running my company and working with the United Nations and with the U.S. government on climate change,” Bloomberg said in a joint interview with Secretary of State John Kerry…
The source told NBC News that Bloomberg – who has mulled a White House bid in the past – would like to be president, but he doesn’t want to launch a campaign if there’s no foreseeable path to victory.
“Mike Bloomberg for president rests on the not-impossible but somewhat unlikely circumstance of either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz versus Bernie Sanders,” said Mr. Rendell, a close ally of Mrs. Clinton’s who is also a friend of Mr. Bloomberg’s. “If Hillary wins the nomination, Hillary is mainstream enough that Mike would have no chance, and Mike’s not going to go on a suicide mission.”…
A longtime critic of partisan primary elections, Mr. Bloomberg has lamented what he considers Mrs. Clinton’s lurch to the left in her contest against Mr. Sanders, especially her criticism of charter schools and other education reforms that he pushed as mayor and has continued to support since leaving office…
In the presence of Mr. Altman, a longtime supporter of Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, Mr. Bloomberg described her as a flawed politician, shadowed by questions about her honesty and the continuing investigation into her email practices as secretary of state, according to two people in attendance…
Mr. Bloomberg, this adviser said, believes voters want “a nonideological, bipartisan, results-oriented vision” that the early primary favorites have not presented.
The criticism of Clinton stated in the New York Times may be “a little bit stronger” than the way Bloomberg feels (they are friends), but the “spirit of the story” is accurate, according to a person familiar with the former mayor’s thinking.
“He’s definitely thinking about [running for president] more than he was,” a person familiar with Bloomberg’s deliberations told ABC News…
The bottom line here is: People close to Bloomberg said this smart, energetic billionaire has not been stimulated the way he was every single day as mayor of the biggest city in the country since he left office.
But a person with knowledge of Bloomberg’s plans told TIME Saturday that he still might run if Clinton appears likely to be the nominee, a prospect that could prove a major boost to Republican hopes of retaking the White House. The person familiar with the plans said a campaign was “significantly less likely,” against a Clinton nominee, but “not impossible.”…
If he did run, Bloomberg would likely campaign as he did in New York City, as an exceptional manager without the ideological biases of the current two party system. “My strengths are attracting good people and getting them to work together, getting the resources for them, adjudicating disputes, bringing them down to reality, evaluating them, promoting them, and protecting them,” Bloomberg previously told TIME.
The very fact that Bloomberg is even exploring a run is bad news for Clinton, who has struggled to live up to her billing as the heir apparent to President Obama. She now trails self-described “democratic socialist” Sanders in New Hampshire and has watched her lead shrink in Iowa. Nonetheless, Clinton remains the favorite to win the nomination, given her support among unelected Democratic convention delegates and minority communities.
It should be noted that Mike Bloomberg is always mulling a presidential bid. He repeatedly concluded that there was a limited constituency for his very New York combination of social liberalism, grumpiness and enthusiasm for plutocracy. Still, he would not be the first extremely rich man to look in the mirror and decide that he needed to save the American people from themselves. And crazier things have happened. Did you know that Donald Trump is running for president, and leading the race?
Whatever’s happening, it sure makes this picture even weirder in retrospect.
— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) January 23, 2016
The former mayor was raised in a Democratic family outside of Boston, and contributed to Democratic campaigns as a young man. But he always viewed the two-party system as a political Uber — a convenient means of getting where he wanted to go that commanded little personal allegiance — and ran for mayor under the Republican banner only because it offered him an easier path to nomination…
Bloomberg has become increasingly agitated by the “tone and tenor” of the campaign so far, but is realistic about his chances, people close to him say. He has discussed a number of potential strategies with a collection of advisers and friends — including the possibility of concentrating his immense resources on a single state like Florida, which both major-party candidates need — to leverage changes in policy…
Even if Bloomberg carries out his promise to serve as his own super PAC, the odds of his winning are steep, verging on impossible. He would most likely serve as a spoiler in Northeastern states, and potentially Florida, which has a large Jewish population — and he’s just as likely to draw votes from the Democratic nominee as the Republican pick, whether it’s Trump or anyone else.
Republican Party leaders argued Saturday that a Bloomberg candidacy would hurt Democrats, not the GOP.
“I think it’s the Democrats who would suffer from a Michael Bloomberg candidacy,” said Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, the sponsor of Saturday’s GOP forum in Nashua. “He’s a man who is very much aligned with the radical left values of the party of the Democratic Party today, whether it’s gun control or you are not allowed to drink a Big Gulp.”…
A major Democratic donor who knows Mr. Bloomberg said the former mayor approached him a couple of months ago to discuss the possibility of mounting an independent presidential bid. He said he thinks that a lot of Democratic donors would be willing to back him over Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders if Mr. Sanders wins the nomination and is facing either Republican Sen. Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.
“I told him that if it’s far right vs. far left, there’s a lane like there’s never been before,” he said.
Ohio governor and Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich told CNN in New Hampshire Saturday that he isn’t worrying about Bloomberg’s plans, but added that he likes the mayor.
“I just worry about doing my thing and we’ll see what happens. But, you know, he was a good mayor of New York, and if he wants to run, it will probably stimulate the debate. I’m all in favor of that,” Kasich said.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was also in New Hampshire for a state GOP town hall event, told reporters that a Bloomberg run would split the Democratic vote due to the former mayor’s longtime support for greater gun restrictions.
“It seems to be what activated him and inspired him in recent elections has been gun control. So if he splits the Democrat vote, those for gun control, that might be good for Republicans,” Paul said.
Bloomberg running for President would almost certainly hand the WH to the GOP. If no one gets 270 EV's, GOP congress picks the prez
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) January 23, 2016
For an independent candidate, at best, it would mean three candidates splitting the popular vote, probably roughly a third apiece, with the independent edging out the others with perhaps 35 percent. But that would mean little for the outcome. Presidential contests are decided by electoral votes. An independent might well secure some electoral votes, but in such a race, no candidate would come close to the majority of 270 required, under the Constitution, for victory.
What then? The Constitution says that if no candidate gets a majority of electoral votes, the election moves to the House of Representatives, among the top three electoral vote-getters. There is a twist: House members do not vote individually but by state, a majority of which are required to select the president. Currently, 33 states have House delegations that are majority-Republican; three are evenly split; and Democrats control 14. There are no independents — zero, nada — in the House. The numbers, of course, could change in the fall elections, but the chances of having any states controlled by independents, indeed of having any independents at all in the House, are close to nil. And given the margins of control in most states, the dominance of majority-Republican delegations isn’t likely to change…
Whatever the outcome — an independent ultimately elected president but without a single lawmaker with any attachment to him or her; or a partisan, probably a Republican, chosen primarily because of the partisan tilt of gerrymandered districts — it would not be healthy for the country. A president elected this way would limp into office lacking legitimacy via a process ripe for logrolling and corrupt bargaining. (Read the history of the 1824 election, for example.)
But I wonder whether we might have four major candidates in the event of a Trump-Sanders or Trump-Clinton matchup—Bloomberg plus an “independent” Republican candidate (I’d guess it might be Romney)? Then the election we’d most resemble was 1824, when there were four major candidates running. That election was settled in the House of Representatives in favor of John Quincy Adams, even though Andrew Jackson won the most popular votes. One could imagine this happening again, with Trump, Clinton, or Bloomberg getting the most votes, but a Republican dominated House picking the “independent” Republican candidate. (Let’s hope to God it isn’t Jeb Bush.) One can imagine today’s Jacksonian candidate (Mr. T) being just as outraged as Jackson was at such an outcome. If you think things were bitter after the messy outcome of the 2000 election between Bush and Gore, just wait.
Cast your mind back to Bloomberg for a moment. Why did he run for mayor of New York as a Republican, even though he’s a much better fit in the Democratic Party? Or for that matter, if he wants to be president, why didn’t he run as a Democrat this year? (He dumped his Republican affiliation in New York as fast as he could, remember.) The obvious answer is that he had no opening in the Democratic Party in New York, where the party hierarchy operates much like a closed-shop union. And New York City Republicans have a bare cupboard.
Likewise, why is Donald Trump running as a Republican, after a lifetime of mostly liberal positions, and his occasional declarations that he leans toward Democrats? I still haven’t heard Trump give an account of why, suddenly, he’s changed his mind on so many positions. Like Bloomberg, it seems to be opportunism rather than conviction; he couldn’t win the Democratic nomination these days, but the open and scattered Republican field gives him an opening to win with a mere plurality of primary votes.
People ask me all the time if I would vote for Donald Trump in the general election, if he were the nominee. The simple answer is, “I’m not sure.” If Trump gets the nomination, this would be the first time in my adult life that my vote was up for grabs in the general election. I would need Trump to convince me that he would be a better President than Hillary, which is not at all something that I am convinced of, even though I think Hillary would be one of the worst Presidents we’ve ever had.
The entry of Bloomberg into the race would complicate things quite a lot for my personal voting decision, in a Trump/Clinton scenario. Bloomberg is every bit the nanny state liberal at heart that Trump is, which means he would never even normally get a second look from me. But Trump is just as bad as Bloomberg on policy. Moreover, Trump has surrounded himself with nut jobs like charlatans like Katrina Pierson and I cannot imagine a White House run by these people. I think his Presidency would likely be an epic national disaster and I can reasonably say Bloomberg’s might be better, even if I do have to protect my soda with my illegal shotgun. Moreover, whatever damage Bloomberg caused the country would not be laid at the foot of the GOP.
So what I’m saying here is, in a three way race between Bloomberg, Trump and Clinton, Bloomberg might well have the early edge with a guy who’s voted conservative Republican all his life. Which might really mean that he will win.