USA Today

Mike Bloomberg Considers Run for Presidency

September 17, 2018 - 10:34 am

(CBS News) - Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former Mayor of New York City, is considering a run for presidency as a Democrat, he told the New York Times.

"It's impossible to conceive that I could run as a Republican — things like choice, so many of the issues, I'm just way away from where the Republican Party is today," Mr. Bloomberg told the Times, in a story that was posted Monday. "That's not to say I'm with the Democratic Party on everything, but I don't see how you could possibly run as a Republican. So if you ran, yeah, you'd have to run as a Democrat."  

He told the Times that he firmly believes that a candidate has to run as a major-party candidate. Bloomberg certain has the money to fund a presidential run. Born into a middle-class Boston family, his fortune is now estimated at over $50 billion, making him the 11th richest person in the world. His eponymous company's signature product, the Bloomberg Terminal, is a fixture at major financial firms. 

He's using some of his fortune -- $80 million -- to help Democrats recapture the House majority in the midterm elections. But Bloomberg would face resistance on some fronts in the party, especially from progressives. He was dubious of some of the sexual misconduct claims about media figures, according to the Times. Bloomberg defended Charlie Rose, the former "CBS This Morning" and PBS anchor who broadcast his PBS show from Bloomberg's company in New York. 

"We never had a complaint, whatsoever, and when I read some of the stuff, I was surprised, I will say. But I never saw anything and we have no record, we've checked very carefully," Bloomberg told the Times. He suggested, "Let the court system decide" whether Rose is guilty of the allegations against him, though he acknowledged the claims might never be examined by a court.

And Bloomberg may also lack a record that would readily endear him to left-leaning voters.

The longtime Democrat became a Republican in 2001 when he wanted to run for New York mayor – the local GOP offered him their ballot line, which allowed Bloomberg to sidestep a primary. Initially written off as a candidate by observers, Bloomberg was elected mayor after he was endorsed by Rudy Giuliani, who had become the most popular politician in America following the 9/11 attacks.

As mayor, Bloomberg oversaw the rebuilding of lower Manhattan amid declining crime rates and significant demographic changes. In addition to being mayor, he was also sometimes the city's single richest citizen, giving him unparalleled power over the nation's largest metropolis.

But Bloomberg was also unafraid to pick fights across the ideological spectrum. He eventually dropped his Republican affiliation, deciding to run for reelection as an independent, while also flooding anti-gun organizations across the country with cash. A social liberal, he also led crusades against salt in restaurants and sugar-filled sodas he saw as a health hazard.

Bloomberg, aided by a subservient city council, changed the laws that would have prevented him from running for a third term. Making use of his essentially unlimited wealth, Bloomberg fended off a stronger-than-expected Democratic challenger amid liberal concerns about his policies on crime and housing.

Since leaving office in 2013, Bloomberg has spent his time and money championing new restrictions on gun ownership and initiatives to fight climate change. He had considered running for president in 2008, 2012, and 2016, but eventually abstained on all three occasions. In 2016, he endorsed Hillary Clinton and spoke at the Democratic convention.

Should Bloomberg decide to run in 2020, he would be one of a number of New Yorkers who could potentially seek the office.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have all been touted as possible candidates. And the current commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump, is a New Yorker as well. 

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