What am I, chopped liver?
It would be only natural if the 20-some Democratic candidates for president are asking that, now that billionaire and former three-term New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be preparing a run of his own.
They have been at this for more than 2 years now, enduring long and fractious debates, corndogs at state fairs, and awkward selfie moments in a never ending struggle to stand out in a crowded field. And along comes a super-rich Rosie Ruiz in this marathon, unscathed by battle and un-scrutinized by the media.
It took about two minutes for Bernie Sanders, the 78-year-old socialist millionaire who owns three homes, to call out Bloomberg, the 77-year-old billionaire. “That is the arrogance of billionaires,” he told ABC News while campaigning in Iowa. “You see, when you’re worth $50 billion, I guess you don’t have to have town meetings, you don’t have to talk to ordinary people.”
Bernie can stop fretting. Three predictions: No way will Mike Bloomberg really run for the Democrat nomination. If he does, he will lose to Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren. And if Bloomberg surprises everyone by winning the Democratic nomination, he will blow up in the general election campaign and lose badly.
Bloomberg’s registering in Alabama to run in the Democratic primary on Super Tuesday (March 3, 2020) is just a tease. Dropping the hanky and hoping Democrats will pick it up and hail Mayor Mike as the answer to their prayers.
He wants to be asked, sure. In 2016 he had staff renting campaign offices across the country for a possible run, only to stand down when it looked as if Hillary Clinton were unbeatable. Then to have another New York billionaire pull it off — that has to drive a prideful guy like Mike Bloomberg crazy with bitterness and regret.
He was an awfully good mayor, rebuilding the city’s spirits and its neighborhoods amid the ashes of 9/11. His skills as a CEO worked well in running the city government, but the run for the White House is a different beast.
Bloomberg lacks the mettle and the patience required of a candidate for a party’s nomination, the requisite thick skin and the willingness to genuflect and ingratiate himself with people on their front porches in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Donald Trump can charm the socks off of people when he wants to do so. Michael Bloomberg can be prickly and combative, a short guy with a chip on his shoulder. Before Trump ran for president, I met him twice. Both times he went out of his way to impress the people he was meeting, to make them like him. That is the hotel promoter in him.
Mike Bloomberg may feel less need to be liked. His net worth is 17 times that of Trump’s. I once met him at a private party on the Upper East Side when he was mayor, and he trashed his opponents bitterly in an ongoing fight over whether to build a new stadium in Manhattan. It was refreshingly authentic and honest, but so angry and insulted. The Bloomberg Way.
Some years ago, Mike Bloomberg attended the Allen & Co. confab hosted every July at a resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. I was there covering it for Fox Business. Bloomberg summons some of his own staff to a private meeting, and the mayor shows up just off the links, with a new golf club still clutched in his hand; he had just bought it.
The reporters thought he wanted to get their take on how the conference was going. Instead, he spent the next 35 minutes complaining bitterly about how the media give him too little credit for the great job he has done as mayor. He questioned reporters’ basic intelligence and fairness.
Hilarious, given he employs a few thousand of them, including some of the best in the field. Plus, it sounds a lot like President Trump. At one point, Mayor Bloomberg is said to have declared that the two most famous faces in the world were those of Barack Obama — and himself. Which sounds a bit like Trump, too.
Now imagine this enormous ego and media antipathy exposed on the national stage of a presidential run, where the media may treat you even more harshly. Unless, that is, you are #GreedyLizzie proposing $20 trillion in tax increases and telling a laughable lie by insisting that only billionaires will pay.
Come to think of it, if Sen. Elizabeth Warren gets elected on the strength of her $20T tax nightmare and her punitive new tax on billionaires, it would cost Bloomy more than $3 billion a year in extra taxes. Every single year. No wonder the guy is thinking of running for the Democratic nomination: it could save him a ton just to keep her from the prize.
Dennis Kneale is a writer and media strategist in New York. Previously he was an anchor at CNBC and at Fox Business Network, after serving as a senior editor at The Wall Street Journal and managing editor of Forbes. He helped write “Wealth Mismanagement: A Wall Street Insider on the Dirty Secrets of Financial Advisers and How to Protect Your Portfolio,” by Ed Butowsky, published in August 2019 by Post Hill Press. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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