Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicks off presidential campaign

NEW YORK -- Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the world's richest men, has formally launched a Democratic bid for president.

Ending weeks of speculation, the 77-year-old former Republican announced his candidacy Sunday in a written statement posted on a campaign website describing himself as uniquely positioned to defeat President Donald Trump. He will quickly follow with a massive advertising campaign blanketing airways in key primary states across the U.S.

He took to the road to make a public announcement and meet with voters and supporters in Norfolk, Virginia on Monday.

"Today I am glad to announce that I am running for president to defeat Donald Trump and to unite and rebuild America," he said. "He represents an existential threat to our country, our values and to our national security."



Bloomberg chose to begin his campaign in Virginia because he backed 15 Democratic candidates who championed climate change and gun violence prevention, and helped Virginia Democrats win full control of the Virginia state government for the first time in 25 years.

"Southeast Virginia proves that with the right candidate, we can turn areas from red to blue. We need to do that all across this country," he said.
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Jim Dolan has details on Michael Bloomberg's 2020 presidential bid.



Bloomberg made a pricey entrance into the race with an eight-figure television ad campaign and advertisements promoting his bio and taking direct aim at President Donald Trump.

In a first ad, the ad narrator says, "He could've just been the middle-class kid who made good, but Mike Bloomberg became the guy who did good."

ABC News reported Bloomberg is reserving at least $37-million in airtime for TV ads.

Bloomberg's entrance comes just 10 weeks before primary voting begins, an unorthodox move that reflects anxiety within the Democratic Party about the strength of its current candidates.

As a centrist with deep ties to Wall Street, Bloomberg is expected to struggle among the party's energized progressive base. He became a Democrat only last year. Yet his tremendous resources and moderate profile could be appealing in a primary contest that has become, above all, a quest to find the person best-positioned to deny Trump a second term next November.

Forbes ranked Bloomberg as the 11th-richest person in the world last year with a net worth of roughly $50 billion. Trump, by contrast, was ranked 259th with a net worth of just over $3 billion. His businesses - among them are financial data services and news services in various formats - employ more than 19,000 people in 69 countries. They are also certain to raise ethical questions about how his news-oriented businesses will cover the campaign and financial conflicts of interest for a possible presidency.

Already, Bloomberg has vowed to spend at least $150 million of his fortune on various pieces of a 2020 campaign, including more than $100 million for internet ads attacking Trump, between $15 million and $20 million on a voter registration drive largely targeting minority voters, and more than $30 million on an initial round of television ads.

He did not say how much he would be willing to spend overall on his presidential ambitions, but senior adviser Howard Wolfson did: "Whatever it takes to defeat Donald Trump."

Wolfson also said that Bloomberg would not accept a single political donation for his campaign or take a salary should he become president.

Even before the announcement was final, Democratic rivals like Bernie Sanders pounced on Bloomberg's plans to rely on his personal fortune.

"We do not believe that billionaires have the right to buy elections," Sanders said as he campaigned in New Hampshire on Sunday. He continued: "That is why multibillionaires like Mr. Bloomberg are not going to get very far in this election."

Elizabeth Warren, another leading progressive candidate, also slammed Bloomberg on Saturday for trying to buy the presidency.

"I understand that rich people are going to have more shoes than the rest of us, they're going to have more cars than the rest of us, they're going to have more houses," she said after a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire. "But they don't get a bigger share of democracy, especially in a Democratic primary. We need to be doing the face-to-face work that lifts every voice."

Bloomberg does not speak in his announcement video, which casts him as a successful businessman who came from humble roots and ultimately "put his money where his heart is" to effect change on the top policy issues of the day - gun violence, climate change, immigration and equality, among them.

Bloomberg has devoted tens of millions of dollars to pursue his policy priorities in recent years, producing measurable progress in cities and states across America. He has helped shutter 282 coal plants in the United States and organized a coalition of American cities on track to cut 75 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2025.

But he is far from a left-wing ideologue.

Bloomberg has declined to embrace Medicare for All as a health care prescription or the "Green New Deal" to combat climate change, favoring a more pragmatic approach.

Still, he has endeared himself to many of the nation's mayors, having made huge investments to help train local officials and encouraging them to take action on climate, guns and immigration in particular.

Ahead of Bloomberg's presidential announcement, the mayors of Columbia, South Carolina, and Louisville, Kentucky, endorsed him. Despite that show of support from at least one prominent black leader, Bloomberg may have trouble building a multi-racial coalition early on given his turbulent record on race relations in New York.

He angered many minority voters during his 12 years in the New York City mayor's office for embracing and defending the controversial "stop-and-frisk" police strategy, despite its disproportionate impact on people of color. Facing an African-American congregation this month in Brooklyn, Bloomberg apologized and acknowledged it often led to the detention of blacks and Latinos.

The apology was received skeptically by many prominent activists who noted that it was made as he was taking steps to enter the race.

The campaign will be headquartered in Manhattan and managed by longtime adviser Kevin Sheekey. Wolfson will also play a senior role.

Bloomberg's team did not establish a super PAC before launching the campaign, preferring to run the primary campaign and a simultaneous set of general election-focused moves like the anti-Trump internet ads and voter registration drive out of the same office.

The path ahead may be decidedly uphill and unfamiliar.

Bloomberg plans to bypass the first four states on the primary calendar - Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina - and focus instead on the crush of states that vote on Super Tuesday and beyond. It's a strategy that acknowledges the limitations of entering the race at this late stage and the opportunities afforded by his vast personal wealth.

His team has noted that several candidates have devoted much of the year to building support on the ground in the earliest states, and Bloomberg needs to be realistic about where he can make up ground.

Nearly a quarter of primary delegates are up for grabs in the March 3 Super Tuesday contests, which have gotten far less attention so far.

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Some information from the Associated Press and ABC News
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