Big spender Bloomberg joins US presidential race, Latest World News - The New Paper

Big spender Bloomberg joins US presidential race

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Ex-NYC mayor says US cannot afford more years of 'Trump's reckless, unethical actions'

WASHINGTON: Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, jumped into the US presidential race on Sunday, becoming the 18th candidate to join a crowded field of Democratic contenders seeking to face Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.

The move represents an about-face for the 77-year-old, who had said in March that he would not make a run for the White House.

"I am running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America. We cannot afford four more years of President Trump's reckless and unethical actions," Mr Bloomberg said on his campaign website.

The mogul, who founded prominent media company Bloomberg LP and serves as its chief executive, spent at least US$31 million (S$42 million) on television ads that will run in states across the US over the next two weeks, a campaign spokesman said.

The advertising blitz drew fierce criticism from Democratic rivals seeking the party's presidential nomination.

"I don't have that money... but I have actually gotten things done in the gridlock of Washington," US Senator Amy Klobuchar said on ABC's This Week programme on Sunday.

Others candidates rebuked Mr Bloomberg's massive ad buy even before his announcement on Sunday.

"I am disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any other billionaire thinks he can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy our elections," US Senator Bernie Sanders said in a statement on Friday.


Ranked by Forbes as the eighth-richest American with an estimated worth of US$53.4 billion, Mr Bloomberg joins activist Tom Steyer as the second billionaire to enter the Democratic race and will have the advantage of being able to self-finance his campaign and pour millions of dollars into advertising and hiring staff.

Mr Bloomberg's candidacy presents a late challenge to the pack of Democratic contenders near the top in opinion polls - fellow centrists Joe Biden, the former US vice-president, and Mr Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana; and prominent liberal US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Mr Bloomberg has been critical of anti-Wall Street crusader Ms Warren and her plan to tax the super wealthy to pay for programmes ranging from universal healthcare to free college tuition.

He will compete with Mr Biden and Mr Buttigieg to become the moderate alternative to the liberal agendas of Ms Warren and Mr Sanders.

He has won allies in the party with his advocacy and philanthropy on climate change and in fighting gun violence, pouring millions into groups pushing for more restrictive gun laws. Mr Bloomberg served as mayor of New York, the largest US city, from 2002 to 2013.

Mr Bloomberg had filed paperwork on Thursday with the US Federal Election Commission to run for president.

He already had filed paperwork to be eligible for the Democratic primary in Alabama and four other states with early deadlines for ballot qualification.

And earlier this month, he announced a US$100 million online ad campaign targeting Mr Trump in four battleground states. - REUTERS