Jan 12, 2020

Bloomberg: "I’m spending all my money to get rid of Trump"

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

Trump-Bloomberg feuding reaches new levels

Mike Bloomberg addresses local leaders in Oakland, California, as part of his focus on states with large numbers of delegates, Jan. 17. Photo: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group.

Maybe it was the eye-popping FEC data about Mike Bloomberg's Q4 spending. Or a rivalry over their Super Bowl ads. Or a change to Democrats' rules that may soon allow Bloomberg to participate in the primary debates.

In any case, President Trump raged overnight on Twitter, primarily going after the height of the 5-foot-8 billionaire who's running as a Democrat. And Bloomberg's campaign shot back, hitting Trump for his weight and hue.

Mike Bloomberg copies Trump to beat Trump

Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

To beat President Trump, Mike Bloomberg wants to be candidate Trump.

The state of play: Axios visited Bloomberg's new campaign HQ in Times Square yesterday, and we were struck by how much his 1,000+-person team is learning from — while trying to surpass — the Trump campaigns of 2016 and 2020.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 23, 2020

Bloomberg's big bet on the power of money

Data: Advertising Analytics, FEC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Michael Bloomberg’s prolific spending aims to make him as legitimate and familiar as his rivals. It also confronts two realities: President Trump is out-raising all the other Democrats with ease, and the Democratic National Committee is anemic.

Why it matters: Bloomberg is betting that enough exposure — through a $300m+ ad campaign and a non-traditional run that looks past the early four states — will make him competitive in Super Tuesday, and make all Democrats stronger in the general election.