Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who has at various times identified as both a Republican and a Democrat, did not launch his presidential campaign in a conventional way. He jumped into the race months after the other candidates, is not even targeting the early states, and is blanketing the national airwaves with a scorched-earth advertising campaign with no seeming strategy to actually lock down delegates.
But there may be a reason behind all of this. According to Bess Levin in Vanity Fair, Bloomberg doesn’t have the singular goal of winning the nomination. Rather, his goal is to bait President Donald Trump into meltdown after meltdown — and boost whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being, even if it isn’t him.
“Speaking at a Texas barbecue restaurant on Saturday, Bloomberg said that if he’s knocked out of the race, he’ll direct future funds toward attacking Trump, supporting whoever wins the nomination—even if that person happens to be Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, whom he basically regards as Communists,” wrote Levin. “‘I really don’t agree with them,’ he said, of the progressive candidates, ‘but I’d still support them, yes, because compared to Donald Trump that’s easy.’ He said that he has no plans to run any negative ads against any Democratic candidates, focusing all of his energy on trolling 45. In addition to funneling cash to whoever goes head-to-head with the president, Bloomberg would seemingly donate much of the gigantic, more-than-800-person team he’s assembled to the nominee, along with other resources.”
Bloomberg’s strategy of getting under Trump’s skin to strengthen Democrats was on full display this week, as he rolled out a massive ad buy attacking Trump for threatening protections for pre-existing conditions — a wedge issue that drove many conservative voters to support Democrats in 2018. Trump replied with enraged tweets lying about his health care record and attacking “Mini Mike Bloomberg.”
Bloomberg, who was evidently hoping for that response, had a retort ready:
Glad to see you’re watching our ads, @realDonaldTrump. I know management isn’t your strong suit, so perhaps you don’t know your Justice Department supports a suit that would undermine protections for pre-existing conditions. Now that you know, why not ask them to drop the suit?
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) January 13, 2020
Bloomberg, it seems, is running not just for president but for kingmaker. And he wants to do so by tricking Trump into dragging himself as far into the gutter as possible.