Billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is opening the door to a US Democratic presidential campaign, warning that the current field of candidates is ill-equipped to defeat US President Donald Trump.
Bloomberg, who initially ruled out a run in next year’s election, has not made a final decision on whether to jump into the race.
If he were to launch a campaign, it could dramatically reshape the Democratic contest less than three months before the party’s primary voting begins.
The 77-year-old has spent the past few weeks talking with prominent Democrats about the state of the field, expressing concerns about the steadiness of former US vice president Joe Biden’s campaign and the rise of liberal US Senator Elizabeth Warren, people with knowledge of those discussions said.
In the past few days, he took steps to keep his options open, including moving to get on the primary ballot in Alabama ahead of the state’s filing deadline yesterday.
In a statement on Thursday, Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson said that the former mayor believes Trump “represents an unprecedented threat to our nation” and must be defeated.
“But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well-positioned to do that,” Wolfson said.
Bloomberg’s moves come as the Democratic race enters a crucial phase. Biden’s front-runner status has been vigorously challenged by Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, who are flush with cash from small-dollar donors.
However, both are viewed by some Democrats as too liberal to win in a general election face-off with Trump.
Despite a historically large field, some Democrats anxious about defeating Trump have been looking for other options.
Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent who registered as a Democrat last year, has flirted with a presidential run before, but ultimately backed down, including in 2016.
He endorsed former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton in that race and, in a speech at the Democratic Party convention, pummeled Trump as a con who has oversold his business successes.
Bloomberg has plunged his efforts — and his money — into gun control advocacy and climate change initiatives. He again looked seriously at a presidential bid earlier this year, traveling to early voting states and conducting extensive polling, but decided not to run in part because of Biden’s perceived strength.
Bloomberg would pose an immediate ideological challenge to Biden, who is running as a moderate and hopes to appeal to independents and Republicans who have soured on Trump.
However, the billionaire media mogul with deep Wall Street ties could also energize supporters of Warren and Sanders, who have railed against income inequality and have vowed to ratchet up taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
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