By Alexander Bolton - 01/27/16 06:00 AM EST
Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends his donations to veterans Sanders blasts Clinton at Calif. rally for rejecting debate Michelle Fields warns Clinton camp: 'Don’t treat Trump as serious candidate’ MORE and Michael Bloomberg could be headed for a political collision that would surely sour what has been a very good relationship between two of New York’s biggest boldface names.
“We have a very nice relationship. We’ve always had a very good relationship,” Trump told The Hill in a telephone interview Tuesday. “If he runs, we will not have a good relationship, I promise you.”
The two Manhattan billionaires, who have lavish homes near each other, have played golf together, rubbed elbows on New York’s elite social circuit and worked together professionally.
But the chummy feelings would go out the window if Bloomberg, who is troubled by the tone of Trump’s campaign, decided to run for president as an independent later this year.
Trump says while he is on friendly terms with Bloomberg — at least for now — they have very different political views.
“We have many opposite positions, on guns, on immigration and on lots of other things,” he said.
The real estate mogul has made cracking down on illegal immigration the centerpiece of his campaign. He has also called for a ban on Muslims entering the country and pledged to get rid of gun-free zones at schools and military bases.
Bloomberg has funded major public advocacy efforts aimed at liberalizing immigration policies and restricting gun ownership.
They also have strongly contrasting personalities.
“They have opposite temperaments. One is cool and one is hot,” said Michael D’Antonio, the author of “Never Enough,” a new biography about Trump.
“This doesn’t mean that Bloomberg is unemotional. I can easily imagine him being appalled by Trump and using that energy to act,” he said. “Likewise, Trump is calculating and strategic. I just think that generally Mike is mannered and serious and Donald is bombastic and emotional.”
Tensions are already beginning to fray their customary high-society cordiality.
Bloomberg has told close associates he’s very concerned that Trump, conservative Texas Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzSanders steps up his attacks in homestretch 5 takeaways from the rush for campaign cash Carson: 'I would not want to be on the ticket or in the Cabinet’ MORE (R) or liberal Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders blasts Clinton at Calif. rally for rejecting debate Sanders steps up his attacks in homestretch Sanders: Democratic convention could be 'messy' MORE (I-Vt.) might wind up in the Oval Office.
Joyce Purnick, Bloomberg’s biographer and a former columnist for The New York Times, says Trump’s comments that many illegal immigrants from Mexico are criminals and his proposal to bar Muslim immigrants could be the deciding factor in his decision to run.
“It’s not just his racism, his anti-Muslim and anti-Hispanic comments. I think it’s the whole package. Knowing Mike Bloomberg, I think he finds it offensive,” she said. “It’s pretty clear from comments I’ve read the past few days that he’s really offended by the type of campaign Trump is running. I’m sure that plays a role.”
Bloomberg’s newly revealed interest in challenging Trump has raised questions of whether he might be jealous of his fellow billionaire’s unexpected political stardom.
Purnick says it’s probably not a case of keeping up with the rich guy down the street.
“I don’t think he would let jealousy move him. It’s too important a decision,” she said.
But she acknowledged, “They both live very grandly.”
Trump, 69, says Bloomberg’s giant financial reporting and media company is “very fragile” and could wind up out of business if its famous terminals, which Wall Street traders pay thousands of dollars to use, become obsolete.
He predicts he would wipe the floor with Bloomberg if he jumped into the race.
“I’d beat him,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday.
Purnick says Bloomberg, who flirted with presidential runs in 2008 and 2012, won’t jump in unless he’s convinced he has a path to victory.
“This is a very deliberate, careful and calculating man who doesn’t act on impulse. He wants to be convinced there’s a way for him to win,” she said.
If Bloomberg, 73, were elected president, he would be the oldest commander in chief, so it’s probably now or never for the ex-mayor.
The most likely scenario for a Bloomberg candidacy would unfold if Trump or Cruz were to win the Republican nomination and Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, were to capture the Democratic nomination. Or if Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSanders blasts Clinton at Calif. rally for rejecting debate Michelle Fields warns Clinton camp: 'Don’t treat Trump as serious candidate’ Sanders steps up his attacks in homestretch MORE, who is the Democratic front-runner, were to emerge from the primary seriously wounded.
Bloomberg would then see a wide swath of centrist voters as up for grabs.
A recent Morning Consult poll shows Sanders attracting 35 percent, Trump 34 percent and Bloomberg 12 percent.
If he decided to go ahead, Bloomberg could spend considerably more of his personal wealth to get elected. Bloomberg is worth an estimated $36 billion, while Trump has assets worth about $4.5 billion, according to Forbes.
Marc La Vorgna, a spokesman for Bloomberg, declined to comment.
Trump and Bloomberg worked most closely together to develop the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, a luxury golf course in the Bronx, New York’s poorest borough.
City planners had wrestled for three decades with the problem of how to develop what was a municipal waste site. With no solution in sight as Bloomberg neared the end of his tenure as mayor, it threatened to blemish his record.
“This was a job that was under construction for perhaps 30 years. Not Michael’s fault at all,” Trump told The Hill. “Michael said, ‘Boy, would I like to have you get that thing going.’ I was a bidder and a lot of people couldn’t bid because it was such a complex job.”
Trump promised the mayor he would be able to tout it as an accomplishment before leaving office at the end of 2013.
“I said to him, ‘Michael, I will get this open before you leave office so you can get the credit for it. I did that and was very happy about it and so was he. He did a good job in selecting me,” Trump said Tuesday.
He noted he got it done under budget and ahead of schedule.
Asked who is the better golfer, Trump demurred.
“You’ll have to ask him,” he said.
He also declined to rate Bloomberg’s record as New York’s mayor when they interacted on various issues, such as the management of Wollman Rink in southern Central Park, which Trump renovated in the 1980s.
“I’ll save that for the campaign,” he said.
Trump never donated to Bloomberg’s mayoral campaigns. Bloomberg self-funded those efforts, as he would do for a prospective presidential campaign. Sources close to Bloomberg say he could spend as much as $1 billion of his own money this year.