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Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg shot back at criticisms that he's running a self-aggrandizing campaign for the Democratic nomination, telling Reuters in an interview: "Number one priority is to get rid of Donald Trump. I’m spending all my money to get rid of Trump."

Why it matters: The campaign finance debate has taken on new significance in 2020, creating a clear divide within the Democratic Party. Progressive candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have turned away big-dollar donations in favor of grassroots fundraising, rebuking moderates like Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden for soliciting donations from the wealthy.

  • But Bloomberg, rated by Forbes as the eighth richest person in America, argues that ignoring the obvious benefits of his wealth would hurt the ultimate cause that every Democrat is fighting for — stopping Trump from being re-elected.
  • Bloomberg has also said that he would pay campaign staff to support the Democratic nominee, even if it is not him.

What they're saying: Bloomberg told Reuters that one reason he's "reasonably confident" he could beat Trump is because of his appeal to swing voters.

  • "Whether you like it or not, you can’t win the election unless you get moderate Republicans to cross the line," Bloomberg said. "The others are much too liberal for them and they would certainly vote for Donald Trump."

The billionaire also defended his massive advertising buys, which include a $10 million ad spot that will air during the Super Bowl. President Trump has also bought a Super Bowl spot for the same price.

  • “You can’t get to 330 million people by shaking hands," Bloomberg argued. "Television is still the magic medium."
  • "If the Super Bowl wasn’t a place to get to an awful lot of people they wouldn’t be charging a lot, or nobody would be paying it. This is capitalism at work."

Go deeper: Bloomberg unveils Trump-focused economic agenda

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Health

FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Dave Lawler, author of World
24 mins ago - World

Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”

Exclusive: Law enforcement organizations back Biden pick for assistant AG

Vanita Gupta Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Local and federal law enforcement officials are backing Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, according to letters sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Major County Sheriffs of America noted Gupta “emphasized that she does not support efforts to ‘defund the police'” and highlighted her desire to improve criminal justice through methods that include increased training for law enforcement officials.

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