A weekly window on the American political scene hosted by the Monitor's politics editors.

Why a Bloomberg nomination has long concerned Team Trump

In August 2018, Trump insider Corey Lewandowski told a Monitor Breakfast that Michael Bloomberg would be the president’s strongest reelection foe. He cited Mr. Bloomberg’s money and outsider status.

Jonathan Drake/Reuters
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is framed by flags while speaking at a campaign event in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Feb. 13, 2020.

Dear reader:

Michael Bloomberg’s path to the Democratic presidential nomination remains wide open. Yes, Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary yesterday – but just by a hair and with less than 26 percent of the vote. The Democratic field is splintered.

That feeds right into the Bloomberg playbook: open the mega-billionaire’s wallet, flood the airwaves with ads, rake in endorsements (notably, so far, from mayors of cities with large African American populations), and watch Democratic voter support grow. The former New York City mayor is now averaging third place in national polls of Democrats.

Mr. Bloomberg’s plan is to compete in the primaries starting March 3, Super Tuesday. He certainly has his work cut out. He has to perform well in the coming debates, if he actually participates (and assuming he will qualify). He also has to overcome deep concerns about his record as mayor, notably his “stop and frisk” policy. A recording released this week by a progressive podcaster had Mr. Bloomberg defending the policy in blunt terms long after he had left office. In responding, the ex-mayor made claims that a New York Times fact-checker found misleading.

But Mr. Bloomberg is still very much in the hunt. And he has long been on Team Trump’s radar. At a Monitor Breakfast in August 2018, Corey Lewandowski – President Donald Trump’s first campaign manager and still an informal adviser – was asked who he thought would be the president’s toughest challenger in 2020. His response: Mr. Bloomberg.

"Michael Bloomberg has created tens of thousands of jobs... That is a story the American people like, and he’s an outsider. So I think it would be a very, very competitive race," Mr. Lewandowski said.

To see his full response, watch this C-SPAN clip starting at the 1:20 mark.

Now, President Trump says he would rather face Mr. Bloomberg over the Vermont senator, “because Sanders has real followers.” Mr. Lewandowski, speaking on Fox News, agreed. Both also highlighted Senator Sanders’ democratic socialist views. We think that’s the real point. And if one considers which Democrat Mr. Trump spends the most time attacking , then it may be that Mr. Lewandowski had it right the first time.

Let us know what you’re thinking at csmpolitics@csmonitor.com.

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