Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is looking to mount a $1 billion bid for the White House as an independent candidate, with sources saying he's alarmed by Donald Trump at the top of the GOP field and Democrat Bernie Sanders' surge past Hillary Clinton in the polls.
The billionaire former mayor has considered independent presidential runs in the past, reports The New York Times
, but decided against them after concluding he could not win.
However, Bloomberg has already taken steps toward a campaign, telling people close to him that he would spend at least $1 billion of his personal fortune on it, the Times said. Spending heavily to win office is not unusual for the billionaire founder of a financial services and news company that bears his name. He shelled out an estimated $250 million on his three mayoral campaigns, the Times reported in 2009
Bloomberg, 73, has set his deadline for making a decision in early March, when advisers believe he could still qualify be on the ballot in all 50 states as an independent. His team plans to conduct a poll after the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary to assess the state of the race.
No independent has ever won a U.S. presidential election.
An unnamed Bloomberg adviser told the Times the former mayor believes voters want "a non-ideological, bipartisan, results-oriented vision" that neither major party is offering.
Bloomberg is likely to abandon his 2016 bid if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination despite Sanders' surge, said former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a past Democratic National Committee chairman.
"Mike Bloomberg for president rests on the not-impossible but somewhat unlikely circumstance of either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz versus Bernie Sanders," said Rendell, who's friends with Clinton and Bloomberg. "If Hillary wins the nomination, Hillary is mainstream enough that Mike would have no chance, and Mike's not going to go on a suicide mission."
Mounting an independent campaign means drawing voters from the Republican and Democratic parties. But its' difficult to see which side would welcome his positions, the Times says. He supports most of the Democrats' social policies but defends the financial services industry, which many liberals find unpopular, and backs aggressive policing policies.
Bloomberg, a registered Democrat who switched to the GOP before winning his first term as mayor in 2001, has spent millions advocating policies and politicians who back gun control, abortion, and immigration reform.
Bloomberg associates say he believes the current slate of presidential candidates, and Clinton's stumbles, are too concerning to stay on the sidelines.
Just last fall, at a dinner party at longtime Clinton supporter Robert Altman's, Bloomberg was critical of Clinton as a flawed politician who is facing questions about both her honesty and the investigation about her use of a private email server while Secretary of State.
One Bloomberg adviser told the Times it isn't all about Clinton, but rather that she trails Sanders in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls, according to the Times.
Trump dismissed concerns about a Bloomberg run last week.
"I would love to have Michael join the race," Trump told George Stephanopoulos Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
"First of all, he's a friend of mine. He's a great guy. I'd love to because he would ... take a lot of votes away from Hillary and it's going to be Hillary."
Clinton donor Alan Patricof, though, said a Bloomberg run would make things difficult for Democrats even though if it came to a choice between Trump and Bloomberg, "I'd certainly rather have President Bloomberg."
Though no third-party candidate has won the presidency, they have had an impact on election outcomes..
In 1992 Texas businessman Ross Perot ran as an independent, a decision that some believe helped Democrat Bill Clinton defeat incumbent Republican George H. W. Bush.
Material from Newsmax wire services was used in this report.
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