Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars to self-fund his 2020 presidential run, announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign after a poor performance on Super Tuesday and will endorse Joe Biden.

What he's saying: "I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden," Bloomberg said in a statement.

  • "I’ve known Joe for a very long time. I know his decency, his honesty, and his commitment to the issues that are so important to our country – including gun safety, health care, climate change, and good jobs."

The state of play: Bloomberg opted to skip campaigning in early states, staking his candidacy on a string of Super Tuesday victories to launch him to frontrunner status, but that plan was ultimately felled by the resurgence of Joe Biden's campaign.

  • Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar both exited the race between the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday and chose to back Biden — along with Beto O'Rourke.
  • On Super Tuesday, Biden scored surprise victories in states like Texas, Massachusetts and Minnesota — and racked up huge wins across the South.
  • While Bloomberg was viable in multiple states, he didn't win any — and his only victory was in the territory of American Samoa.
  • Bloomberg and Biden spoke on the phone on Wednesday, according to a Bloomberg campaign official.

The big picture: Bloomberg's self-funding drew backlash from an increasingly progressive party that is skeptical of the role of big money in politics. Bloomberg was one of two billionaires in the race, joined by Tom Steyer, who dropped out over the weekend.

  • Bloomberg's record as mayor of New York City drew controversy, particularly his support of stop-and-frisk. He apologized for the policy in November, acknowledging that it unfairly targeted people of color.
  • He faced criticism for his use of non-disclosure agreements after being accused of harassment and gender discrimination by former female employees of Bloomberg LP.
  • He also faced an ethical conflict related to his ownership of Bloomberg News. The eponymous founder refused to allow his company's journalism arm to investigate him as a candidate, forcing it to extend that policy to all 2020 Democrats.

Bloomberg moved to directly take on President Trump from the start of his run. Both campaigns took out 60-second ad slots during the Super Bowl, and Bloomberg became a repeated target of Trump's tweets.

  • Trump gave Bloomberg a signature nickname — "Mini Mike" — and said he "is going nowhere, just wasting his money."
  • After Bloomberg dropped out, Trump tweeted that he "could have told him long ago that he didn’t have what it takes, and he would have saved himself a billion dollars, the real cost. Now he will pour money into Sleepy Joe’s campaign, hoping to save face. It won’t work!"

What's next: Bloomberg has pledged to pay his massive staff to continue to work through November to support whoever becomes the eventual Democratic nominee.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

How "naked ballots" could upend mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

Trump signs in Olyphant, Penn. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell bump elbows before House hearing on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the expiration of Congress' coronavirus stimulus will weigh on the U.S. economy.

Why it matters: Powell warned that the effects of dried-up benefits are a looming risk to the economy, even if the consequences aren't yet visible.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!