Bloomberg signals interest in entering presidential race

Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Founder's presidential bid puts Bloomberg News in spotlight Bloomberg files for Democratic presidential primary in Arkansas MORE has opened the door to entering the crowded 2020 presidential race, arguing the current field of Democratic candidates "is not well positioned" to beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE.

"If Mike runs he would offer a new choice to Democrats built on a unique record running America’s biggest city, building a business from scratch and taking on some of America’s toughest challenges as a high-impact philanthropist," Bloomberg aide Howard Wolfson said in a statement. 

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"Based on his record of accomplishment, leadership and his ability to bring people together to drive change, Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win," he said.

The New York Times and other news outlets earlier on Thursday reported that Bloomberg, 77, was preparing to file paperwork this week to declare himself a candidate in the Alabama presidential primary ahead of the state’s filing deadline Friday. 

A Bloomberg adviser said the former mayor and billionaire businessman has been privately mulling a White House bid for weeks and has not yet made a final decision.

Bloomberg’s entry into the crowded Democratic primary field would mark an upheaval. His moderate views, financial resources and deep connections among the political establishment could pose the most direct challenge to former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry MORE, whose centrist campaign has lagged in fundraising behind other front-runners, leading to weeks-long handwringing among Democrats as to his viability.

The entrance of a second billionaire in the Democratic primary, joining Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerSteyer scores endorsement from key New Hampshire activist Excitement over Bloomberg's trial balloon should concern Democrats New Quinnipiac poll finds Biden leading in New Hampshire MORE, could also fan the debate over how far Democrats should go in addressing income and wealth inequities, particularly as proposals from progressive candidates like Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE (D-Mass.) would boost taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.

Howard Wolfson, a close adviser to Bloomberg, said the former mayor is concerned about Trump as an “unprecedented threat to the nation,” but that he’s also uncomfortable with the current Democratic primary field.

“We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated — but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that,” Wolfson tweeted on Thursday. “If Mike runs he would offer a new choice to Democrats built on a unique record running America’s biggest city, building a business from scratch and taking on some of America’s toughest challenges as a high-impact philanthropist.”

Bloomberg will have months of ground to make up should he choose to run. Most candidates launched their campaigns in the first few months of 2019. He would also likely face an avalanche of questions over his policies and politics, from implementing controversial policing techniques to his past registration as a Republican and as an independent.

Bloomberg said in March that he would not run for president but warned that the ultimate Democratic nominee should not take progressive policy positions that would “drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election.”

“It’s essential that we nominate a Democrat who will be in the strongest position to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country back together,” he said at the time. “We cannot allow the primary process to drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election and translate into ‘Four More Years.’”

However, speculation has risen that Bloomberg would reconsider joining the race after Biden, the top centrist in the primary field, saw a slight dip in the polls and fell behind Sanders, Warren and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Saagar Enjeti rips Buttigieg for praising Obama after misquote Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE in fundraising.