Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders

Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders
© Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is casting the 2020 primary race as a two-man battle between the former New York City mayor and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's effort to delay election The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Trump discuss coronavirus response; Wisconsin postpones elections Wisconsin governor postpones Tuesday's election over coronavirus MORE (I-Vt.).

Bloomberg’s campaign said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that it has seen its stock rise as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen 16 things to know today about coronavirus MORE's back-to-back losses in Iowa and New Hampshire have sparked questions about his viability.

“Mike is quite clearly in a strong second place in this primary and rising rapidly above the rest of the field, which is either stagnant or declining quickly,” Dan Kanninen, the Bloomberg campaign’s states director, said on the conference call. “None of the other Democrats beside Mike or Bernie is in a position to amass delegates in a serious way on Super Tuesday.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Kanninen maintained that only Bloomberg, Sanders or President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report MORE had any shot of winning the election in November. He also cited polling and a burgeoning list of endorsements to suggest that Bloomberg is the only Democrat who can derail Sanders’s path to the Democratic nomination, which has been bolstered by strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire and persistent divisions among the primary field’s centrist candidates. 

Bloomberg has seen a recent polling surge after a months-long advertising blitz backed by hundreds of millions of his own dollars. The former mayor has enjoyed a steady rise since his late campaign launch in November, though national polls from the past weeks show him rising into the primary field’s top tier, with a new survey out Tuesday showing him in second place behind Sanders. 

The polling boost has qualified him for Wednesday’s primary debate in Nevada, where he will square off against five other presidential contenders on a national stage.

The boasts from Bloomberg’s campaign come in the aftermath of fourth- and fifth-place finishes for Biden in the first two nominating states, setting off handwringing among moderate Democrats that Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, will coast to the nomination as centrists struggle to rally around a standard-bearer.

Biden’s campaign hammered Kanninen’s comments as arrogant, saying Bloomberg has yet to prove himself in the primary contest. 

“Mike Bloomberg has not yet endured a single debate. He has not been on the ballot in early states or won a single delegate to the convention,” Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates told Politico.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bates also cited recent controversies Bloomberg has grappled with regarding past comments on stop and frisk, among other things. 

Despite recent negative headlines, Bloomberg’s campaign remains a potent force in the primary, posing a particularly stark challenge to Biden. The former mayor is overseeing an exploding staff that is focused on Super Tuesday and general election swing states that other campaigns have yet to dedicate as much time to, and a national poll last week showed Bloomberg taking a bite out of Biden’s support from black voters.

Julia Manchester contributed.