Biden brushes off Bloomberg challenge: 'I'm pretty far ahead'

Biden brushes off Bloomberg challenge: 'I'm pretty far ahead'

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE on Friday dismissed speculation that billionaire businessman Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergBloomberg: Trump should be impeached Bloomberg releases gun control plan Bloomberg network used widely in finance directs to his campaign site: report MORE entering the 2020 primary poses a threat to his standing in the field, expressing confidence over his front-runner status. 

“I welcome him in the race,” Biden told reporters in New Hampshire. “Michael’s a solid guy, and let’s see where it goes. I have no problems with him getting into the race.”

“In terms of he’s running because of me, the last polls I looked at, I’m pretty far ahead,” he added. “If I’m not mistaken, I’m doing pretty well both relative to [President] Trump and relative to all the people running in the Democratic primary." 

The former New York mayor on Friday filed paperwork to appear as a candidate in the Alabama Democratic primary next year, the first step in a process that could upheave the already-crowded primary field.

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Bloomberg — who like Biden would campaign as a centrist — said in March that he would not run for president but warned that the ultimate Democratic nominee should not take overly progressive policy positions that would “drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election.” 

Speculation rose that Bloomberg would reconsider joining the race after Biden, the field’s top moderate, saw a slight dip in the polls amid the surging campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg: Harris 'deserves to be under anybody's consideration' for vice president MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE (I-Vt.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegCastro hits fundraising threshold for December debate On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading NYT editorial board calls on Buttigieg to disclose details of work at consulting firm MORE.

Though Bloomberg has not yet made a final decision on if he will run for president, according to a person familiar with his thinking, he has expressed concerns with the current 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,” Howard Wolfson, a close adviser to Bloomberg, tweeted on Thursday without naming any specific candidate. 

Should he run, Bloomberg is expected to court voters who fear that progressive policies will prove too liberal in key swing states that Trump won in 2016, the same group to which the Biden campaign is angling its appeal. 

A New York Times/Siena College poll released Friday found that a majority of Democrats surveyed in six battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — prefer a more centrist-minded candidate who promises to find common ground with Republicans.

While Bloomberg has a tremendous personal wealth and could find support among the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, he might struggle to gain traction in the primary after entering so late. He would have to rapidly build out his campaign infrastructure to catch up with other candidates who have been organizing for months, and he will have to garner donations from hundreds of thousands of donors to qualify for the Democratic debates.