Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided against making an independent run for president because, he says, he fears a three-way race would lead to the election of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
The media mogul revealed his decision in a column published today on Bloomberg View, his company’s opinion-oriented site.
“In a three-way race, it’s unlikely any candidate would win a majority of electoral votes,” wrote Bloomberg, who has been considering a campaign, “and then the power to choose the president would be taken out of the hands of the American people and thrown to Congress. … As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience.”
Bloomberg said he’s “always been on friendly terms” with Trump and even appeared on his reality show The Apprentice, but he disapproves of Trump’s campaign tactics. “He has run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears,” Bloomberg wrote, citing Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim stances, plus his “feigning ignorance of white supremacists.” Cruz, he said, is “less bombastic” but equally extreme and divisive.
Bloomberg, originally a Democrat, later a Republican, and now an independent, had criticism for both major parties. “The leading Democratic candidates have attacked policies that spurred growth and opportunity under President Bill Clinton — support for trade, charter schools, deficit reduction and the financial sector,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, the leading Republican candidates have attacked policies that spurred growth and opportunity under President Ronald Reagan, including immigration reform, compromise on taxes and entitlement reform, and support for bipartisan budgets.”
The former mayor would likely have run for president if it appeared U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont would be the Democratic candidate, Bloomberg advisers told The New York Times. But with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opening up a lead over Sanders in primaries, “the path for an independent campaign aimed at the political center was slim and narrowing,” the Times notes.
In his column, Bloomberg said he is “not ready to endorse any candidate,” but he promised, “I will continue urging all voters to reject divisive appeals and demanding that candidates offer intelligent, specific and realistic ideas for bridging divides, solving problems, and giving us the honest and capable government we deserve.”
In 2012, Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama for reelection, citing Obama’s support for marriage equality as one of the reasons. A three-term mayor of New York, Bloomberg had a mixed record on LGBT issues overall, but he eventually came around to supporting marriage equality. He made a major speech in 2011 calling for the New York State legislature to pass a marriage equality bill (it did), and in 2012 he donated to marriage equality efforts in four states where the issue was on the ballot — Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.