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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.

Driving the news: Trump tweeted that if Bloomberg qualifies for the next Democratic debate, he'd try to "stand on boxes, or a lift." Trump also accused Bloomberg of getting the DNC "to rig the election against Crazy Bernie," and he vented more in a Sean Hannity interview previewed by Fox News.

  • Democrats have done away with a required fundraising threshold, which Bloomberg would not meet because he is self-funding. But the new rules require a 10% polling average that Bloomberg hasn't yet met.

The other side: Bloomberg first fired back through his campaign's national press secretary, Julie Wood: "The president is lying. He is a pathological liar who lies about everything: his fake hair, his obesity, and his spray-on tan."

Later, Bloomberg responded directly: "I will stand on my accomplishments of what I’ve done to bring this country together and get things done. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I stand twice as tall as he does on the stage, on the stage that matters."

While skipping the first four states to run an unconventional national campaign, Bloomberg will be jetting around California while the rest of his opponents are in Iowa.

  • "Iowa and New Hampshire have 65 delegates," said Bloomberg's national spokesperson Galia Slayen. "California, Michigan and Pennsylvania have 726."
  • I'll be joining Bloomberg on Monday, for stops in Sacramento, Fresno and Compton. On Tuesday, Bloomberg plans to campaign in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Behind the scenes: Three of President Trump's advisers told me that Trump seems to view Bloomberg as a serious problem. Trump takes Bloomberg more seriously than some of his advisers, including the Trump campaign team, sources with direct knowledge told me.

  • A senior administration official, who told the president that Bloomberg has no hope of winning the Democratic nomination, said Trump replied: "You're underestimating him."
  • "He [Trump] thinks that money goes a long way," the official told me.
  • Another Trump adviser said: "He [Trump] takes money seriously. He's a businessman."
  • Trump has been lashing out at Bloomberg’s constant TV ads, despite some aides advising him to ignore the billionaire who is still polling well below Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Trump began his series of tweets about Bloomberg at 12:10 am today.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, said of Bloomberg: "His outsized wealth and outsized ego are matched by his overwrought jealousy and spitefulness towards the president. Jealousy is a dangerous motivator for people, leading them to confuse with a sugar high that money can buy with substance that voters demand to hear."

  • Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson responded to Conway's quote: "History will call to account every single person within this administration who has enabled and abetted this lawless and dangerous president."
  • "Mike got into this race with the singular goal of defeating Donald Trump and a strategy of contrasting his record of accomplishment with Trump's lies and broken promises," Wolfson added. "Clearly it's working."
  • Conway responded to Wolfson: “Howard and I have already made history together. His work for Hillary and my work against Hillary helped keep her out of the White House.”
  • Wolfson, who worked for Clinton’s losing 2008 presidential campaign but not her losing 2016 campaign, replied, again, to Conway: “And in less than a year we will make history again when Kellyanne and Mr. Trump will have to stand and watch Mike take the oath of office.”
  • At this point, I ended my role as quote mediator.

Go deeper: Mike Bloomberg copies Trump to beat Trump

Go deeper

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
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FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried mystified by value of NFTs

Crypto exchange FTX, valued last week at $25 billion, recently launched an NFT marketplace by selling an image of the word "Test" for $270,000.

  • FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" that he doesn't quite understand the appeal, but adds that he doesn't personally appreciate many visual arts.