Bloomberg is Bluffing (UPDATE: He’s Not Running)

Bloomberg is Bluffing (UPDATE: He’s Not Running)


UPDATE 5:42 pm by Lowell: Looks like Andy was right! :)

We have heard about Michael Bloomberg’s possible run for the presidency this year on an independent ticket. The latest news is that he intends to make up his mind in the next few weeks.

It is generally believed that Bloomberg’s decision hinges on who the Democratic nominee for president will be. If Hillary sews up the nomination, it is thought, Bloomberg will stay out of the ring. But if Bernie gets the nod, the idea is, then Bloomberg will run. (“A third-party Bloomberg candidacy is generally believed to be most likely in the event of a November election pitting Sanders against Trump,” says an article in Salon.)

I think he’s bluffing.

If Bloomberg’s decision is indeed about staying out if Hillary runs, but getting in if Bernie is the candidate in the fall, that surely means that he calculates that his candidacy would hurt Bernie, and therefore help elect the Republican nominee.  I can’t imagine that he believe he could actually win the presidency—the first independent candidate to do so since the two-party system emerged at the end of the eighteenth century.

I can understand that a Wall Street billionaire like Bloomberg would oppose a candidate, like Bernie Sanders, who is running against Wall Street and the billionaire class.

But would Michael Bloomberg really want to take on the responsibility of giving the nation a President Donald Trump (or a President Ted Cruz)? I just don’t believe it. The lessons are too fresh of Ralph Nader’s role in giving us, in 2000 the George W. Bush presidency — and all that entailed, such as the Iraq war and all the other ugliness — for Bloomberg not to understand the historic costs his decision might entail.

My guess is that Bloomberg’s play here is all about the threat. He is firing a shot across the bow of the Democratic electorate in the hope that enough voters will be scared off from supporting Senator Sanders to help yield the outcome he desires in the Democratic nomination process: the victory of former New York senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • Andy Schmookler

    Lowell kindly says that I was right. I appreciate that, but I think only partly right.

    I seem to have been right about Bloomberg not wanting to contribute to the unacceptable outcome of a Trump presidency.

    But I think that the new evidence — from the article here

    may suggest that I was wrong about the Bloomberg-may-run idea being a bluff.

    That article reports Bloomberg having taken steps toward having a running mate:

    “Mr. Bloomberg held extensive talks with Michael G. Mullen, the retired
    admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about forming
    an independent ticket. Lawyers for Mr. Bloomberg had completed the
    process of vetting Mr. Mullen, and all that remained was for Mr.
    Bloomberg to ask formally that Mr. Mullen serve as his running mate.”

    I don’t imagine that if Bloomberg was in fact bluffing he would have wasted either his or Admiral Mullen’s time with such a vetting process.

    So, part right, part wrong– it seems now.

    • Andy Schmookler

      BTW, that same NYTimes article reports that it was, indeed, Bloomberg’s “fear that a three-way race could lead to the election of a candidate he thinks would endanger the country: Donald J. Trump.”

    • lowkell

      Yeah, he definitely seemed serious — had done extensive polling, had assembled a campaign in waiting, had cut a TV ad and had a running mate lined up…wow.