Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits a Potential White House
Read full NY Times Article - January 23, 2016
Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His
advisers and associates said he was galled by [one candidate's rise], and troubled by [another candidate's] stumbles.
Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has in the past contemplated running for the White House on a third-party ticket, but always concluded he could not win.
A confluence of unlikely events in the 2016 election, however, has given new impetus to his presidential aspirations.
Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible
campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on
it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized
to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers
believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all
He has retained a consultant to help him explore
getting his name on those ballots, and his aides have done a detailed study of past third-party bids. Mr. Bloomberg commissioned a poll in December to see how he might fare against [the possible legacy party nominees], and he intends to conduct another round
of polling after the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 to gauge whether there is indeed an opening for him, according to two
people familiar with his intentions.
His aides have sketched
out a version of a campaign plan that would have the former mayor, a low-key and cerebral personality, give a series of
detailed policy speeches, backed by an intense television advertising campaign that would introduce him to voters around
the country as a technocratic problem-solver and self-made businessman who understands the economy and who built a bipartisan
administration in New York.
Bloomberg would face daunting and perhaps insurmountable obstacles in a presidential campaign: No independent candidate has
ever been elected to the White House, and Mr. Bloomberg’s close Wall Street ties and liberal social views, including
his strong support for abortion rights and gun control, could repel voters on the left and right.
But his possible candidacy also underscores the volatility of a presidential race that could
be thrown into further turmoil by a wild-card candidate like Mr. Bloomberg.
[Depending on who the nominee is, Mr. Bloomberg] has told allies he would be likely to run.
Edward G. Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania and a past National Committee chairman,
said he believed Mr. Bloomberg could compete in the race if activist candidates on the left and right prevailed in the party
Mr. Bloomberg declined to comment on his interest
in the 2016 race, and most of his associates would speak only on the condition that they not be named. Mr. Bloomberg is
irked by the perception that he has toyed too often with running for national office, according to several associates, and
is said to be wary of another public flirtation.
same time, these associates said, he has grown more frustrated with what he sees a race gone haywire. A longtime critic of
partisan primary elections, Mr. Bloomberg has lamented ... criticism of charter schools and other education reforms that he pushed as mayor and has continued to support since leaving office.
At a dinner party late last fall at the home of Roger C. Altman, an investment banker and
former deputy Treasury secretary, Mr. Bloomberg delivered a piquant assessment of [a legacy party frontrunner] as a presidential
candidate. Continue reading the main story
Graphic: 2016 Primary
Calendar and Results
In the presence of Mr. Altman, a longtime
supporter of [the former president and his wife] Mr. Bloomberg described her as a flawed politician, shadowed by questions
about her honesty and the continuing investigation into her email practices as secretary of state, according to two people
The outcome of that investigation, Mr. Bloomberg
said, was anyone’s guess.
Setting a March deadline
for making a decision allows Mr. Bloomberg to see [results of] the early primaries. And because of his vast wealth, there
is no downside in laying the groundwork for a possible campaign, even if he ultimately decides against it.
Even a victory by [the frontrunner] in the ...
primaries might not preclude a bid by Mr. Bloomberg, his associates said, if he believed she had been gravely weakened by
Mr. Bloomberg has maintained a constructive
relationship with the [the former New York Senator] over the years, working closely with [her] during her tenure in the
Senate and at one point even suggesting that she run to succeed him as mayor.
Mr. Bloomberg, this
adviser said, believes voters want “a nonideological, bipartisan, results-oriented vision” that the early primary
favorites have not presented.Social acquaintances and political and business leaders said they
had been surprised to find their encouraging remarks about a possible 2016 campaign answered with intense seriousness by
Mr. Bloomberg, who has stressed that he would run if he saw a path to victory.
Mr. Bloomberg’s brain trust has examined previous third-party efforts dating to Theodore
Roosevelt in 1912, giving closest attention to the campaigns of John Anderson in 1980 and H. Ross Perot in 1992.
While Mr. Bloomberg supports many of the [the left leaning legacy] Party’s
social policies, he has been a fierce defender of the financial services industry, which is unpopular with many liberals,
and enacted aggressive policing policies in New York City that are anathema to left-leaning voters.
And when he first ran for mayor in 2001, he ... poured energy and money into advocating policies
that conservative[s] detest, most notably gun control and immigration reform.
Mr. Bloomberg has seen the [right-wing party frontrunner's] campaign rhetoric on immigration as especially distasteful.
But in an interview with ABC News that aired last weekend, [the frontrunner] said he would welcome a presidential campaign
by Mr. Bloomberg, whom he called “a friend” and “a great guy.”
Mr. Bloomberg, he predicted, would “take a lot of votes away from [my opponent].”
Alan Patricof, a financier and longtime donor to the [leftwing legacy
party candidates] who is also friendly with Mr. Bloomberg, said it would be “a terrible thing” for the [leftwing]
Party’s prospects of winning the White House if the former mayor ran as an independent.Representative
Daniel M. Donovan Jr., a New York Republican who is a friend and golfing partner of Mr. Bloomberg’s, said that many
voters “who aren’t totally satisfied with any of the people who are running right now, would welcome a Mike
Mr. Donovan said he could consider
supporting Mr. Bloomberg, depending on how the rest of the race develops.
“He governed more in pragmatic ways than in ideals,” Mr. Donovan said.