Billionaire publisher and three-time mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg confirmed on Monday that he is considering an independent run for the presidency, telling The Financial Times in an interview that he believes the American people deserve “a lot better” than the campaigns currently being run. “I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Bloomberg said.
And you know, it’s hard to disagree with him.
On Monday, voters were treated to one of the candidates for the Republican nomination taking to Twitter to call another “a loser … a liar and a whiner.” And, for a change, it wasn’t Donald Trump lashing out at a competitor, but former Florida governor Jeb Bush sniping at Trump.
Trump, of course, didn’t let the insult slide. In an interview with CNN, he hurled all sorts of abuse right back at Bush, calling him “sad and pathetic,” “an embarrassment to his family,” and a “nervous wreck.”
Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, in appearances in New Hampshire and in television interviews, was reliving his all-out assault on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio from the Saturday evening debate in New Hampshire.
Christie’s attacks on Rubio plainly rattled the Floridian, who has been surging in the polls. But Christie spent most of Sunday and Monday essentially arguing that demonstrating his ability to use bluster and bombast to make another candidate stumble somehow proves that he is the most qualified candidate for the Oval Office.
The same Christie, less than 24 hours later, tried to turn back questions about his state’s economic performance under his leadership by characterizing them as “insulting” to his constituents.
Bloomberg’s interview came only days after the two remaining Democratic candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, spent an inordinate amount of time during one of their (relatively infrequent) debates in a largely pointless semantic argument about which of them is truly a “progressive” candidate.
If he were to enter the race, Bloomberg would share some odd parallels with Trump – not least of which would be his status as the second New York billionaire who has had presidential ambitions for years deciding that 2016 is the year for him.
He would also face extraordinary opposition from core Republican voters because of his adamant support for gun control and abortion rights and because of the paternalistic policies he attempted to impose while mayor of New York, including a ban on the sale of large soft drinks.
In fact, if Bloomberg were to enter the race, there is a real likelihood that he would contribute to the problem he’s complaining about. After all, this is the man whose policies inspired former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to show up at a rally with a Big Gulp in hand as a political “statement.”
Bloomberg offers something for everyone in the field to hate. A former Democrat, he switched to the Republican Party in 2001 because he saw no possibility of winning the Democratic nomination in New York City. He then switched his affiliation to independent partway through his second mayoral term.
Bloomberg might believe he can raise the tone of the campaign if he enters the race. But there’s good reason to think that a man who would no doubt be characterized variously as a gun-grabbing, party-switching, big government, moralistic, opportunist plutocrat might not actually help matters by throwing his hat in the ring.