After spending half a billion dollars and winning an estimated 31 delegates on Super Tuesday, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg ended his presidential run in the face of a stinging rejection by Democratic primary voters, two sources told CBS News.
It’s been a little over three months since Bloomberg joined the Democratic primary race. Though he had initially declined to run in 2020, the billionaire entered the campaign fray because he had no confidence that anyone in the field could beat President Trump in November.
“I started watching and listening to the candidates,” he said on “60 Minutes” on Sunday. “And they had ideas that made no sense to me whatsoever. Donald Trump is going to eat them for lunch.”
He had hoped for a strong showing in Virginia, where he announced his candidacy in late November, and in other states like Tennessee, North Carolina and Oklahoma. But Joe Biden won all of those states on Tuesday. Bloomberg captured only American Samoa.
In Virginia, Bloomberg spent nearly $18 million on advertising in the weeks running up to Super Tuesday. The deluge of spending did little to persuade voters in the state — exit polling showed 56% of them had a negative view of Bloomberg, compared to 39% who viewed him favorably.
Bloomberg’s path to the nomination had already become less clear, however, after his lackluster debate performance and the resurgence of Biden in the South Carolina Democratic primary.
From the start, Bloomberg bucked the political norms of presidential campaigning. Opting to skip the first four early voting states entirely, Bloomberg flooded television, radio and digital markets nationwide and in the Super Tuesday states, outspending every other candidate in the field, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in some states.
On the campaign trail, he spent little time in the photo line taking pictures with voters, and declined to take questions, something most of his competitors did. Instead, Bloomberg held comparatively short events that had the production value of a general election rally. Bloomberg focused heavily on Super Tuesday and battleground states. During an election night event in West Palm Beach, Bloomberg showed no signs he planned to drop out.
“In just three months, we’ve gone from 1% in the polls to being a contender for the Democratic nomination for president.” Bloomberg told the crowd of supporters Tuesday. “If I’m the nominee, let me make you this promise: we will beat Donald Trump here in Florida and in swing states around the country.”
Following the results in Iowa and New Hampshire, which showed Sanders in a strong position, the Bloomberg campaign saw an opportunity to capitalize on moderate candidates splitting the rest of the field, calling on others to drop out and rally behind him as the only viable alternative to Sanders. A campaign memo suggested the race for the nomination was between two candidates, Bloomberg and Sanders, and also warned that if Sanders were the nominee, he would eventually lose to Mr. Trump in the fall.
Although Bloomberg used his large network of support from mayors across the country and organizations like Every Town and Moms Demand Action, the former mayor and one-time Republican had a hard time distancing himself from his past.
He was also never able to completely put behind him his mayoral administration’s implementation of the controversial policing practice, stop-and-frisk. Questions surrounding past comments he is alleged to have made to women who worked for his company, Bloomberg LP, also surfaced as his campaign built momentum. In February, after pressure from fellow Democratic contender and Elizabeth Warren, Bloomberg released three women from non-disclosure agreements in an effort to promote more transparency at his company.
A constant target of Mr. Trump, Bloomberg made his intentions clear from at every speech that his focus was beating Mr. Trump in the general election.
You can read the full statement from Bloombergs campaign below:
STATEMENT FROM MIKE BLOOMBERG
This morning, Mike Bloomberg released the following statement:
“Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump – because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult.
“I’m a believer in using data to inform decisions. After yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible – and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists. But I remain clear-eyed about my overriding objective: victory in November. Not for me, but for our country. And so while I will not be the nominee, I will not walk away from the most important political fight of my life.
“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.
“I’ve known Joe for a very long time. I know his decency, his honesty, and his commitment to the issues that are so important to our country – including gun safety, health care, climate change, and good jobs.
“I’ve had the chance to work with Joe on those issues over the years, and Joe has fought for working people his whole life. Today I am glad to endorse him – and I will work to make him the next President of the United States.
“I am immensely proud of the campaign we ran, the issues we raised, and the sweeping and achievable plans we proposed – including our Greenwood Initiative to right historic wrongs, fight racial inequality, and make the promise of equal opportunity real for the Black communities that have endured centuries of exploitation and discrimination. That work is fundamental to the future of our country – and to the more perfect union that each generation is called to build.
“I am deeply grateful to all the Americans who voted for me – and to our incredibly dedicated staff and volunteers all around the country, who knocked on more than two million doors and held 12 million voter conversations in an incredibly short amount of time. No one outworked our team, and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone who was part of it. And I will be forever grateful to all the mayors, local and state legislators, Members of Congress, and many others who believed in me, endorsed my candidacy, and worked hard to unite voters around our vision. Your support and trust sustained me, and I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead.
“We made our campaign slogan a clear, simple promise: Mike will get it done. And I intend to keep working on the “it.” I will continue to work for sensible, common sense policy solutions that can get done. That includes passing gun safety laws that save lives. Fighting climate change. Improving health care. Making college more accessible and affordable. Creating economic opportunity for all. And helping mayors and local leaders across the country who are doing so much important work on all of these issues.
“The past few months have been some of the most inspiring of my life, and I want to thank the tens of thousands of Americans, from Maine to California, whom I was privileged to meet – and who every day, with their voices and their ideas, made this campaign such a powerful experience. And I am intent on making it a lasting experience: I want my supporters to stay engaged, stay active and stay committed to our issues. I will be right there with you. And together, we will get it done.”
First published on March 4, 2020 / 10:11 AM
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