WASHINGTON: Billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of America’s largest city, jumped into the race for the Democratic U.S. presidential nomination on Sunday as a moderate with deep pockets unabashedly aiming to beat fellow New Yorker Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.
Bloomberg’s belated entry into the race – just three months before the first of the state-by-state party nominating contests – reflects his skepticism that any of the other 17 Democratic candidates can unseat the Republican president.
“I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,” Bloomberg, a 77-year-old former Republican, said in a statement launching his campaign.
“We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions,” he said.
The move represents an about-face for Bloomberg, who had said in March he would not run for president. He will compete with former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana to become the moderate alternative to liberal U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Bloomberg, founder and CEO of prominent media company Bloomberg LP and a leading philanthropist, has a financial advantage over his Democratic rivals. It already is on display as he has spent at least $31 million in television ads that will run in states across the country over the next two weeks, a campaign spokesman said.
He has won allies in the party with his advocacy and philanthropy on climate change and in fighting gun violence, pouring millions of dollars into groups pushing for more restrictive gun laws.
Bloomberg will face significant disadvantages because of his late start, which means he will be playing catch-up with rivals who have been putting together campaign staffs for months.
Ranked by Forbes as the eighth-richest American with an estimated worth of $53.4 billion, Bloomberg joins activist Tom Steyer as the second billionaire to enter the Democratic race and will have the advantage of being able to self-finance his campaign and pour millions of dollars into advertising and hiring staff.
He announced earlier in November a $100 million online ad campaign targeting Trump in four battleground states.
“We do not believe that billionaires have the right to buy elections,” Sanders said in a Twitter post on Sunday. “That is why multi-billionaires like Michael Bloomberg are not going to get very far in this election.”