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Bloomberg signals interest in entering presidential race

Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergOn The Trail: The political perils of Snowmageddon Five things to watch in the New York City mayoral race Florida Democrats mired in division, debt ahead of 2022 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 TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills 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 BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video 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 SteyerTom SteyerGOP targets ballot initiatives after progressive wins On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far 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 SandersKlain says Harris would not overrule parliamentarian on minimum wage increase Romney-Cotton, a Cancun cabbie and the minimum wage debate On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBecerra says he wants to 'build on' ObamaCare when pressed on Medicare for All Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill 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 ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSenate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary Biden to detail 'roadmap' for partnership with Canada in meeting with Trudeau Biden's infrastructure plan needs input from cities and regions MORE in fundraising.