Bloomberg made a 'yuge' mistake dropping out

Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWake up, America — see what's coming Bloomberg urges court to throw out lawsuit by former campaign staffers Former Obama Ebola czar Ron Klain says White House's bad decisions have put US behind many other nations on COVID-19; Fears of virus reemergence intensify MORE and his team made two disastrous political decisions during his brief presidential campaign.       

The first, and most stupefying, was agreeing to take the stage for the debate in Nevada. You know, the one where Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHouse Armed Services votes to make Pentagon rename Confederate-named bases in a year Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Liberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP MORE (D-Mass.), now also out of the race, pummeled him into political pulp with her question about women who once worked for him and the nondisclosure agreements they signed after accusing him of sexual harassment. You could see it coming down Fifth Avenue in Bloomberg’s beloved New York.          

With regard to the decision to step onto the debate stage, it was either one of the most blatant cases of political advice malpractice in the history of presidential politics or Bloomberg himself decided to bigfoot his team and unilaterally embarrass himself — against Warren, who herself had become a poster child for Walter Mitty invention and doublespeak.

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That said, while Warren’s attack inflicted damage, it was not fatal to his campaign. Bloomberg managed to survive the blow precisely because the Democratic primary field was so weak, so disorganized, so flawed, so odd at times — so Bernie SandersBernie SandersHickenlooper beats back progressive challenge in Colorado primary Progressive groups urge Biden to tap Warren as running mate Young Turks host says Elizabeth Warren should be Biden's VP pick MORE.        

In spite of the embarrassment he suffered in that debate, the fact is, given that his campaign had begun only weeks earlier, Bloomberg still had a respectable showing on Super Tuesday in several states.          

In fact, it could be argued that in some states he had a better showing than the candidate who took his legs out from under him in Nevada. Warren not only had an embarrassing third-place showing in her home state of Massachusetts, where she is the senior senator, but dismal results in most of the rest of the past week’s primaries. It’s why she, too, bowed out of the race.       

Warren's dropping out is what leads us to Bloomberg’s second major political mistake: getting out of the race before Warren and then endorsing former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign raised M more than Trump in the month of June RNC, Trump campaign raised 1M in June Michigan shuts down most indoor bar service in bid to prevent virus resurgence MORE.        

Had Bloomberg stayed in, it would be a three-person race between him, Biden and Sanders (I-Vt.). Then the game would become denying either Sanders or Biden the 1,991 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination on the first ballot.    

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It has been reported that Bloomberg and his team were working behind the scenes in anticipation of a contested convention. The realistic goal of that strategy was to get enough of the other pledged delegates to switch to Bloomberg and put him over the top when a second ballot was cast at the convention.          

Bloomberg’s dropping out also calls into question his initial motivation for running for president. Did he run because he honestly felt he would be the best person to lead the nation and a credible alternative to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE? Or was he propelled more by feelings of envy, jealousy and anger toward Trump, who once lived not too far away from Bloomberg on Manhattan’s East Side?

The Democratic establishment does not want Sanders to become the party’s nominee. His recent virtual hugging of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is just one reason they rightfully feel he is unelectable.     

Yet much of that same Democratic establishment has but the thinnest veneer of confidence in Biden’s candidacy. They need him as a tool to vanquish Sanders, the democratic socialist, but they surely understand that Biden has a number of negatives swirling about him. Party officials likely are continually waiting for the final shoe to drop that proves Biden is unelectable as well.      

Because of those well-founded fears, Bloomberg should have at least stayed in the race until the end of March and primaries that include the delegate-rich states of Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Illinois.  

I understand that even a candidate worth more than $60 billion could get sticker shock. What’s another $100 million or so if you truly did believe in yourself and your reasons for running — especially when the Democrats soon may have serious buyer’s remorse with Biden?

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.