News & Politics

Bloomberg Won't Run Third-Party Campaign This Year

In the least-surprising news story of the year, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg will not mount an independent run for the White House this year:

Michael R. Bloomberg, who for months quietly laid the groundwork to run for president as an independent, will not enter the 2016 campaign, he said Monday, citing his fear that a three-way race could lead to the election of a candidate who would imperil the security and stability of the United States:Donald J. Trump.

In a forceful condemnation of his fellow New Yorker, Mr. Bloomberg said Mr. Trump has run “the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears.” He said he was alarmed by Mr. Trump’s threats to bar Muslim immigrants from entering the country and to initiate trade wars against China and Japan, and he was disturbed by Mr. Trump’s “feigning ignorance of David Duke,” the white supremacist leader whose support Mr. Trump initially refused to disavow.

“These moves would divide us at home and compromise our moral leadership around the world,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a column published Monday afternoon on Bloomberg View, his opinion site. “The end result would be to embolden our enemies, threaten the security of our allies, and put our own men and women in uniform at greater risk.”

The multi-billionaire, who lives much of the year on the island of Bermuda, and whose net worth far exceeds that of Trump, has periodically flirted with running for president over the past few years, in the end always deciding against it.

The decision by Mr. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who served three terms, ends months of intensive preparation for a candidacy. Convinced that a restive electorate was crying out for nonpartisan, technocratic government, he instructed his closest aides to set up the machinery for a long-shot billion-dollar campaign that would have subjected his image to a scorching political test.

They covertly assembled network of several dozen strategists and staff members, conducted polling in 22 states, drafted a website, produced television ads and set up campaign offices in two states — Texas and North Carolina — where the process of gathering petitions to put Mr. Bloomberg’s name on the ballot would have begun in days.

Had both Mr. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont appeared headed toward victory in the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries, Mr. Bloomberg was determined to run, according to his advisers, several of whom insisted on anonymity to speak candidly about confidential discussions.

But Mr. Bloomberg balked at the prospect of a race against Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton, who has established a dominant lead over Mr. Sanders on the Democratic side. In his column, Mr. Bloomberg said he could not in good conscience enter a race that could lead to a deadlock in the Electoral College — and to the election of Mr. Trump, or perhaps Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Recall that the Boston-born Bloomberg, one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of $41 billion, slipstreamed Rudy Giuliani into Gracie Mansion by running as a “Republican” in the wake of 9/11. The former lifelong Democrat later ran for a third term as an independent.