Opinion: 20 Out of 20: Michael Bloomberg thinks he’s the right billionaire for president

The world’s ninth richest man and former New York mayor has lots to overcome with his late entry into the presidential race.

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Opinion: 20 Out of 20: Michael Bloomberg thinks he’s the right billionaire for president

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Everytown for Gun Safety.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Everytown for Gun Safety.

TNS

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Everytown for Gun Safety.

TNS

TNS

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Everytown for Gun Safety.

Elijah Helton, Opinions Editor

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When I started the 20 Out of 20 series, I made a list of potential 2020 presidential candidates. This was back in 2017 when it was trendy to write about Presidents Mark Zuckerberg and Al Franken (two speculations that didn’t age well).

Campaign-announcement season came and went, and Michael Bloomberg was nowhere to be found — until he wasn’t. Just when I thought the field was finally shrinking, the former New York mayor and world’s ninth richest man decided November was the ideal time to launch his bid for the White House.

He hasn’t officially-officially declared yet, but Bloomberg has stirred up enough attention and it looks like he’s in.

Why is he running? 

Bloomberg seems to have two related reasons for running: there’s no strong moderate candidate, and his rich buddies want him to run. This seems reasonable enough with former Vice President Joe Biden looking (to put it respectfully) past his prime on the campaign trail, and reports of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calling Bloomberg to ask him about running.

Many would point out the 77-year-old is nine months older than Biden, and the Democratic Party probably isn’t in the mood for a Manhattan 1-percenter — but those objections don’t seem to be stopping Bloomberg.

How could he win the nomination?

Many would point out the 77-year-old is nine months older than Biden, and the Democratic Party probably isn’t in the mood for a Manhattan 1-percenter — but those objections don’t seem to be stopping Bloomberg.”

Things need to get weird in order for him to win, so let’s say things get weird. 

Biden implodes. Buttigieg gets stale. Klobuchar can’t capitalize. The blue dogs still need to hunt, so they consolidate behind Bloomberg to defeat the left.

Something unforeseen would have to take out the progressive wing, too. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., would both need some sort of meltdown to open the door for a moderate such as Bloomberg.

I know that’s a lot of assumptions to make, but Bloomberg has a fairly narrow path to the top of the ticket.

How could he win the White House?

Whatever events result in a Bloomberg nomination would define the general election.

His premise is simple: a serious, stable businessman with actual business acumen. He won’t be flashy on policy; he’s just there to make sure everything doesn’t fall apart.

That pitch might work against chaotic President Trump, but it hasn’t so far for similar billionaire hopefuls such as Tom Steyer and Howard Schultz. Perhaps actual government experience of running the country’s largest city for more than a decade helps his case.

The Democrats’ leftist base would be pretty demoralized if they didn’t get Sanders or Warren. But vitriol for Trump trumps disapproval and distrust of the centrist Bloomberg, and most of the base would turn out albeit diminished.

Perhaps a Harding/Coolidge-style “return to normalcy” is a successful general-election strategy. But if Bloomberg wants to be president, it’s a long time until next November, and his start has been delayed more than his city’s subways.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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