Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seriously considering a run for president and is asking aides to explore a potential bid.
Mr. Bloomberg, 73 years old, has long contemplated a run at the White House. But the unlikely rise and continued strength of Donald Trump, along with polls suggesting Hillary Clinton’s campaign may be flagging, have driven the billionaire businessman closer than ever before to entering the race, a close adviser said Saturday.
Eyeing a potential opening for the first time, Mr. Bloomberg has retained a consultant to help him run on the independent ballot in state primaries. He has commissioned polls to test his path to victory. And he has directed the close circle of advisers who worked for him as mayor and have remained by his side over the past two years since he left office to begin mapping out a blueprint for a run, one adviser said.
That adviser said the former mayor has been upset by what he sees as extremist rhetoric from Republicans in the race, as well as a leftward turn from Mrs. Clinton, who is fending off an unexpectedly strong challenge in the Democratic primary from the more liberal Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Mr. Bloomberg’s path to victory remains narrow and unlikely. His outspoken support for gun control, for example, as well as other liberal social views, could dissuade some Republicans from backing him. His more conservative record on policing, as well as his background on Wall Street, could prevent him from picking up crucial support among some Democrats.
Mr. Bloomberg, who founded the media company that bears his namesake, Bloomberg LP, has a history of switching parties, first running for mayor in 2001 as a Republican before switching his affiliation to independent. He served three terms as New York mayor.
He is likely to make a decision on the presidential bid sometime in March.
If he runs, Mr. Bloomberg is likely to face hurdles with voters, especially those outside the Northeast, where he is better known. A recent poll by Morning Consult showed Mr. Bloomberg receiving 13% support from voters, Democrat Hillary Clinton getting 36% and Republican Donald Trump 37%. The same poll found that 43% of voters either hadn’t heard of Mr. Bloomberg or had no opinion. Morning Consult said the poll was conducted from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17 among a sample of 4,060 registered voters around the country.
Through a spokesman, Mr. Bloomberg declined to comment.
Reaction was mixed to the news of a potential Bloomberg run, which was earlier reported by the New York Times.
Republican Party leaders argued Saturday that a Bloomberg candidacy would hurt Democrats, not the GOP.
“I think it’s the Democrats who would suffer from a Michael Bloomberg candidacy,” said Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, the sponsor of Saturday’s GOP forum in Nashua. “He’s a man who is very much aligned with the radical left values of the party of the Democratic Party today, whether it’s gun control or you are not allowed to drink a Big Gulp.”
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul also said Bloomberg candidacy would attract Democrats who care about gun control, an issue he said wasn’t popular nationally.
“I think this will probably be splitting some of the Democratic vote,” Mr. Rand said. “That might be good for Republicans.”
Some Republicans voters gathered at the New Hampshire forum Saturday, however, expected a Bloomberg candidacy to hurt their own presidential efforts.
“I think it would probably hurt both parties, but probably Republicans more,” said Robert Indresano, a 46-year-old registered Republican from Massachusetts.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that while the former mayor has “got a lot of money,” he wasn’t worried about how he could affect his own quest for the White House.
“I just worry about doing my thing and we’ll see what happens,” said Mr. Kasich after speaking at a multicandidate Republican forum in Nashua, N.H., Saturday.
Mr. Kasich, who has run his candidacy on spreading an optimistic message, called Mr. Bloomberg a “good mayor.” He said Mr. Bloomberg might help raise the level of the presidential debate if he ran.
“Maybe we could have more serious debate instead of, you know, some of the things we see,” Mr. Kasich said. “I like Michael. I mean I’m not endorsing him, but I like him.”
A major Democratic donor who knows Mr. Bloomberg said the former mayor approached him a couple of months ago to discuss the possibility of mounting an independent presidential bid. He said he thinks that a lot of Democratic donors would be willing to back him over Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders if Mr. Sanders wins the nomination and is facing either Republican Sen. Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.
“I told him that if it’s far right vs. far left, there’s a lane like there’s never been before,” he said.
This person said he would support Mr. Bloomberg in a matchup of Mr. Sanders against Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz. But he also said Mr. Bloomberg would likely be self-funded so wouldn’t need his money.
Michael Bloomberg would seriously be the best choice as President for the United States. Of all serious contenders he would trump even Trump on demonstrated success in the private sector.
Like Trump he won't easily succumb to special interest because he is already rich.
Like Trump his desire to be president is altruistic. Unlike the other candidates running for president... living in the White House is a downgrade for Mr. Bloomberg.
Even though he is the smartest and most deserving contender he doesn't stand a chance at getting elected... not because he's running independent... but because he's Jewish.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bloomberg was born into a family that believed the wrong fictitious story to explain human existence or they advocated for education, hard work, and professionalism too rigorously.
The outcome of this announcement ultimately gives Trump an edge for presidency because Bloomberg will cannibalize many democratic votes.