Michael Bloomberg, a brand-name billionaire far wealthier than Donald Trump, a famously independent voter who derides both the Democratic and Republican parties, endorsed Hillary Clinton on Wednesday and called Trump a “risky, radical and reckless choice” for president.
“Let’s elect a sane, competent person,” he said.
The normally soft-spoken owner of Bloomberg financial-news service excoriated his fellow New Yorker, labeling him a “dangerous demagogue,” a hypocrite, a con, and—slashing at the core of Trump’s self-worth—a horrible businessman.
“Throughout his career,” Bloomberg said in his prime-time address. “Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies and thousands of lawsuits and angry shareholders and contractors who feel cheated and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us!”
The Clinton team had hoped Bloomberg’s independence would make him a uniquely credible validator, not just of her presidential qualities, but of Trump’s poor temperament and weak management. While he had a respectable amount of praise for the former secretary of state, Bloomberg clearly despises Trump, which may make him one of the unusually large number of Americans who will vote in November out of a sense of negative partisanship—meaning they’re motivated more out of loathing for one candidate than love for the other.
Bloomberg served three terms as mayor of Trump’s hometown. A billionaire New Yorker and political novice who captured the Republican nomination and rode it to victory stood in front of the crowd and asked it not to allow another billionaire New Yorker to do the same.
The Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent began by establishing his nonpartisan credentials, calling his appearance “an unconventional convention speech” delivered by an outsider. “When the Founding Fathers arrived here in Philadelphia to forge a new nation they didn't come as Democrats or Republicans or to nominate a presidential candidate,” Bloomberg said. “They came as patriots who feared party politics, and I know how they felt.”
He called himself a ticket-splitter and criticized both parties, the Republicans for demonizing immigrants and Democrats for poor-mouthing the private sector.
“There are times when I disagree with Hillary,” he said. “But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”
He praised Clinton’s work to help New York recover from 9/11 and said she is the kind of leader who listens. His endorsement came with a caveat.
“Now, I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless. No candidate is,” Bloomberg said. “But she is the right choice—and the responsible choice—in this election. No matter what you may think about her politics or her record, Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television. This is reality.”
Cue the attack on Trump.
Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire who is four times richer than Trump even claims to be, mocked the mythology of GOP candidate’s wealth. “Now, we’ve heard a lot of talk in this campaign about needing a leader who understands business. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve built a business. And I didn’t start it with a million-dollar check from my father.” Some estimates suggest Trump’s wealth is basically the value of his inheritance plus inflation.
“I’m a New Yorker,” Bloomberg continued. “And I know a con when we see one! Trump says he’ll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the U.S. visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them. What'd I miss here?!”
“Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy!”
Bloomberg said America is greater than Trump suggests and needs a better president than Trump could be. “I understand the appeal of a businessman president. But Trump’s business plan is a disaster in the making,” he said.
“The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice. And we can't afford to make that choice!”
He closed with one last appeal to independent voters, particularly those people who dislike both candidates.
“To me, this election is not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It’s a choice about who is better to lead our country right now, better for our economy, better for our security, better for our freedom, and better for our future, “ he said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is the right choice this November. So tonight, as an independent, I am asking you to join with me—not out of party loyalty, but out of love of country.”