“US media tycoon Michael Bloomberg exited the Democratic presidential race and endorsed frontrunner Joe Biden on Wednesday, after blowing more than half a billion dollars on a gamble that failed to inspire voters.”
That’s the dismissive way one wire service began its article and that’s the way many others saw the Mike Bloomberg story. Schadenfreude was on display as we learned that Bloomberg had “crashed and burned” in the primaries. (Recall the myth of the overly ambitious Icarus, who approached the Sun too closely.)
Donald Trump, who had taunted the former New York mayor by tagging him with the derisive nickname Mini Mike, a reference to height, of course piled on. And of course Trump was quoted at length: “This has been the worst, and most embarrassing, experience of his life,” the president tweeted.
“I could have told him long ago that he didn’t have what it takes, and he would have saved himself a billion dollars, the real cost,” Trump added. “Now he will pour money into Sleepy Joe’s campaign, hoping to save face. It won’t work!”
If you take the time to read far enough in those stories you may find Bloomberg’s own explanation to his supporters:
“I entered the race for president to defeat Donald trump, and today I am leaving the race for the same reason because staying in would make it more difficult to achieve that goal,” he said.
“After yesterday’s results, the delegate math had become virtually impossible, and a viable path to the nomination just no longer existed. Defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it, and after yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and great American Joe Biden,” he added.
Funny thing about that explanation is that it’s all true. Bloomberg, like many other moderate Democrats, had become worried that the moderates’ early hopes in Biden wouldn’t pan out and that the campaign needed a candidate of similar stature but one who could first defeat socialist Bernie Sanders and then beat Trump in the general election.
Those ads he bought? Extremely well crafted as professionals in the field have said, they made the case against Trump – not so much against Bloomberg’s Democratic opponents. The argument could be ventured that the ads helped bring out the crowds that showed up to vote in the primaries and voted with a remarkable show of anti-Trump unity primarily for Biden and Sanders.
Seeing (the hard way) that his earlier fears about Biden’s candidacy seemed not to have been borne out by events, Bloomberg lost no time getting out of the race. And it’s a good bet that he will indeed keep the ads coming. That could help Biden considerably as Trump inevitably does his best yet again to dredge up some Ukraine dirt and make it stick in voters’ minds.
If you are among the majority of Americans and other people around the world who disapprove of Donald Trump, please think about whether you can agree that Mike Bloomberg – a supremely competent man who would have made a fine president – has done the public-spirited, right thing.
Full disclosure: I used to work for Bloomberg – not directly, since he had left the Bloomberg media empire in the hands of others while he served as mayor of New York, and I never actually met him face to face.
For myself, I take what Mike has done in this campaign as a billion-dollar favor.
Bradley K. Martin is a veteran Asia-based reporter and commentator.