Feb 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

What Obama told Bloomberg

Obama shakes hands with Bloomberg on the sideline of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

After Bloomberg announced his presidential bid, he spoke over the phone with the last Democrat to win the presidency.

Behind the scenes: President Obama "congratulated me and we chit-chatted," Bloomberg told me. "He just basically said, you know, 'Good luck, and when they try to go after you don't fall for the bait, and don't feel bad if not everything goes right.'"

  • "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon and you've got to keep working at it," Bloomberg said Obama told him.
  • A source close to Obama said, "It was the same advice he's dispensed to all the other presidential candidates who have sought his advice."

Between the lines: Bloomberg said he did not ask Obama for an endorsement. "You know, he's got his vice president's running. And he hasn't endorsed him yet. ... Maybe he's just staying out of the whole thing, I don't know."

Go deeper

Bloomberg's historic bust

Mike Bloomberg waves to supporters in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Never in American history has a presidential candidate spent more to get less than Mike Bloomberg, making his buy-a-nomination bid a big bust. 

Why it matters: Bloomberg spent $600 million to win as many states as every American who chose not to run: zero. (He has American Samoa to show for it.)

Focus group: What some Florida swing voters think of Bloomberg

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Contributor

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Some swing voters here are unbothered by the way Michael Bloomberg is spending heaps of his own money to help him win the race — but they're split over whether they'd actually vote for the New York billionaire over President Trump.

Why it matters: Bloomberg is the only Democrat who was even slightly intriguing to these voters. They're happy with Trump and don't feel like they recognize the current Democratic Party relative to when they voted for Barack Obama.

Letter from Planet Bloomberg

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Mike Bloomberg's campaign feels corporate. It's calm, orderly and punctual. His audiences clap politely, and you can't walk two steps without running into a paid staffer with talking points. Nobody whoops or yells. Nothing is left to chance. No expense is spared. The candidate is self-consciously low-key.

The big picture: After being immersed in Donald Trump's freewheeling White House and campaign for more than four years, I found the day I spent flying around with Bloomberg's campaign last week in California to be a foreign experience.