Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took his case against President Donald Trump for a test run on Friday, as the possible 2020 presidential candidate told Democratic business leaders that his fellow New York billionaire was "flunking."
"I think it's clear this president at this point cannot be helped, and the training wheels that the staff tried to put on in the Oval Office have not worked," said Bloomberg, a 76-year-old media mogul who served three terms as New York mayor. "The president is just flunking every single test."
Bloomberg called Trump, who left the world of big-time real estate development to run for the presidency, a "pretend CEO" who is "totally incompetent," according to the New York Post's account of the speech.
Bloomberg repeatedly hinted that he could mount a campaign for the Democratic nomination and join a large field hoping to challenge Trump in the November 2020 election.
The billionaire political activist and founder of a media company that bears his name would bring a famous brand and business background to the field of Democrats that is expected to grow to as many as two dozen.
"We’ve got to make sure we’ve got someone different in the White House and I’m committed to that," Bloomberg said. "Who here would hire Donald Trump to run their company? No. We’re his boss though. We’re the board of directors. And we should do what any board of directors would do in the private sector."
He said he has had discussions with Democratic party leaders and officials in Iowa and New Hampshire, states with the earliest nomination contests. But asked whether he would run, he said he had yet to decide.
“It would be great to being president of the United States, but you have to look at what you can do in the private sector, the possibility of getting elected, your family and your private life ... and your company. I don't like walking away from challenges, but there are multiple challenges," he said.
"I do not know what the right thing is for me right now."
Bloomberg's wealth, estimated at more than $50 billion in 2018 by Forbes magazine, would allow him to fund his own campaign, but would likely draw criticism from rival Democrats. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has already complained that billionaires do not belong in the contest.
Bloomberg donated millions of dollars to Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm congressional elections and has spent millions more helping elect Democrats aligned with his gun control crusade.
Bloomberg changed party affiliation in 2001 and ran for New York mayor as a Republican. He left the Republican party while mayor and ran for his third mayoral term as an independent on the Republican ballot line. He has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in the past but has decided not to run. (Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by David Gregorio)
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