Bloomberg Definitely Lost. But Maybe He Kind of Won

He may have managed to help steer the race toward Biden
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2020 2:34 PM CST
The Very Expensive Lessons of Mike Bloomberg's Campaign
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks during a rally, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A half a billion dollars later, Michael Bloomberg is out of the 2020 race. All that money and a novel strategy didn't get him far. Where did it go wrong and what have we learned? Pundits weigh in:

  • All that money "did buy a serious campaign," writes Jeff Greenfield at Politico. "Hundreds of Democratic officials, from big city and small-town mayors to governors to county executives to members of the House, backed his candidacy. These are achievements of real politics." So why did he fail? "If there is an elephant in the room, tell the people you see the elephant in the room," writes Greenfield, and Bloomberg didn't. He details myriad ways in which Bloomberg should have confronted his past head-on instead of sidestepping it, for instance, by releasing the three women from their NDAs when he announced his run, "not after Elizabeth Warren had dismembered him [at] a debate."

  • At the Los Angeles Times, Jon Healey dismembers the argument that Bloomberg should have done something more noble with his half a billion dollars than buy ads before going on to make that case that we "should be thankful for Bloomberg’s effort and the valuable lessons it provided. First, it showed that personal wealth alone can’t guarantee you a place on the ballot. Second, it showed that policy proposals alone won’t make the sale either—voters care not just about the message, but the messenger." And debates do matter: Bloomberg's story could have ended differently had Las Vegas not been a disaster.
  • What stands out to Arick Wierson at CNN is "how quickly [Bloomberg] was able to part ways with his long-stated goal of becoming president. At 78 years old, this marks Bloomberg's last shot at the presidency." But that "swift decision" shows he meant it when he said he "was serious about the reason he initially jumped into the political fray: to serve as an insurance policy for the Democratic Party. He can now do that by supporting Biden."
  • Almost every post-mortem on Bloomberg mentions how much the Las Vegas debate hurt him, but none so colorfully as Bess Levin's take at Vanity Fair. "The billionaire effectively had his internal organs rearranged for him by Elizabeth Warren on live TV." And while he "presumably had an army of high-priced advisers to prep him before the debate," he "seemingly had nothing prepared in response except to say that the NDAs were signed 'consensually' and that the only thing he’d ever been accused of was telling a 'joke' a woman didn’t like."
  • Bloomberg may have lost, but he walks away with a pretty hefty consolation prize, writes Perry Bacon Jr. at FiveThirtyEight. "With Biden now in a much stronger position than when Bloomberg entered the race, you could argue that Bloomberg provided what he and other more center-left figures wanted—to steer the race towards a more moderate nominee. ... My guess is that Bloomberg would have preferred to be the candidate instead of Biden but knew that was a fairly unlikely outcome, since he is a one-time Republican who entered the race in late November."
(Read more Michael Bloomberg 2020 stories.)

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