Much of the thinking is informed by Bloomberg’s experience in the 2018 midterms, when he spent more than $100 million to become the single biggest Democratic donor, winning in 21 of the 24 races where his Independence USA PAC got directly involved.
This may yet turn into an effort on behalf of a Bloomberg campaign, with his advisers carefully watching Biden’s moves to help them decide what to do. They doubt there’s room in the Democratic field for both. The two have been allies, particularly on gun control, and hold similar positions to the center of many of the more progressive Democrats running. They are also both white men in their mid-70s, seen as figures of the establishment.
Whatever his concerns about Biden, Bloomberg has continued acting and sounding like a presidential candidate—making anti-Trump speeches in Virginia and Washington last week, blasting ex–Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for flirting with an independent campaign on Monday, heading to New Hampshire to talk policy and eat pizza on Tuesday. But he and his team are carefully assessing the likely hard fit for his record and positions in the 2020 race as it’s shaping up.
“They feel like they have a candidate with potential, staff, dollars, strong name ID, and [they] are assessing the road ahead,” said one person who’s been in touch with Bloomberg’s team. “They know they can’t wait forever, but also understand that they have more bandwidth to assess the field and opportunities—more than many, if not most.”
Some operatives around the country have been asked whether they’d be interested in joining a campaign if he does run, along with others who work for Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the other groups he controls.
Aides have also been in conversations with other political leaders around the country—Sheekey, for example, talked with several mayors, including Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer while they were in Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting last week.
And Bloomberg continues highlighting strengths from his own record on gun control and climate change, as well as taking swings at Elizabeth Warren for her proposal to raise taxes on the ultra-rich, and at other Democrats for supporting free college tuition. He said that he’d release his own version of a Green New Deal soon. Even as other candidates made it official over the past month, Bloomberg has kept up a busier schedule on the trail than any of them, though a lull in events is expected over the next few weeks.
In New Hampshire, he also took more digs at Trump, saying at one point in his speech at Saint Anselm College, “He failed at business, and now I think it’s fair to say he is failing at government.”
But Bloomberg also looked at running for president in the past three elections—coming so close in 2016 that ads were scripted and a potential running mate selected—only to determine that he couldn’t win (though those times he planned to run as an independent, not a Democrat). He has been seriously considering a 2020 run since the summer, infuriated by nearly every decision of Trump’s presidency. Serious meetings about the data effort began in the fall.