Michael Bloomberg Launches Democratic Presidential Bid

WASHINGTON (AP) -
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

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.

“I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,” Bloomberg wrote.

“We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions,” he continued. “He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage.”

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.

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.

Initially registered as a Democrat, the Massachusetts native filed paperwork to change his voter registration to Republican in 2000 before his first run for New York City mayor, according to a spokesman. In June 2007, he unenrolled from the GOP, having no formal party affiliation until he registered again as a Democrat this October.

While some will question his newfound commitment to Democrats, he vowed allegiance to the party in an Associated Press interview earlier in the year, saying, “I will be a Democrat for the rest of my life.”