Wed, Mar 09, 2016 - Page 7 News List

No White House run: Bloomberg

CAMPAIGN CANNED:Michael Bloomberg said a third-party presidential campaign would likely hand the White House to a Republican and that is ‘not a risk I can take’

AP, NEW YORK

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday that he would not run for president, citing a concern that his independent bid would hand the White House to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

The billionaire, who has spent months mulling a third-party run that would have roiled this year’s already extraordinarily unpredictable presidential campaign, made his decision official through an editorial posted on the Bloomberg View Web site.

Bloomberg, in ending his third and likely final flirtation with a White House run, wrote that a three-way race could lead to no one winning a majority of votes, which would send the race to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives — and, therefore, to one of the Republican frontrunners.

“That is not a risk I can take in good conscience,” Bloomberg wrote.

Bloomberg was blistering in his critique of Trump, currently the Republican frontrunner, saying the real-estate mogul has run “the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears.”

He was similarly critical of Cruz, saying the Texas senator’s “pandering on immigration may lack Trump’s rhetorical excess, but it is no less extreme.”

Bloomberg acknowledged that he and Trump had been on “friendly terms” and that he had twice agreed to be on Trump’s reality TV show The Apprentice, but the former mayor said Trump’s campaign “appeals to our worst impulses.”

“We cannot ‘make America great again’ by turning our backs on the values that made us the world’s greatest nation in the first place,” Bloomberg wrote. “I love our country too much to play a role in electing a candidate who would weaken our unity and darken our future — and so I will not enter the race for president of the United States.”

Bloomberg made only an oblique reference to Democratic Party frontrunners Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and did not endorse a candidate. His aides indicated that Bloomberg might at some point offer an endorsement and use his wealth to try to influence the race, but cautioned that no decision had been made.

The former three-term mayor — who had indicated he would spend US$1 billion of his own money on the campaign — had set a mid-March deadline for his team of advisers to assess the feasibility of mounting a run, believing that waiting longer would imperil his ability to complete the petition process needed to get on the ballots in all 50 states.

He had taken some initial steps, cutting a mock TV ad, preparing to open campaign offices in Texas and North Carolina — states with early ballot access deadlines — and having aides begin to vet possible vice presidential candidates, including Michael Mullen, the retired admiral and former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Aides to Bloomberg believed the dominance of Trump among Republicans and the rise of Sanders amid Democrats had opened a centrist lane for a non-ideological, pragmatic campaign.

Their own polling suggested Bloomberg had a viable path to the needed 270 electoral votes if Trump and Sanders were the nominees, though that projection included some remarkably optimistic predictions for Bloomberg, including winning Tennessee and Georgia and tying Sanders in the senator’s home state of Vermont, but as Clinton racked off a string of victories, Bloomberg grew worried that he would siphon more support from her than Trump, ensuring that part of the mayor’s carefully managed legacy would be that he helped give Trump the White House.

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