Michael Bloomberg's 2020 campaign senior adviser Tim O'Brien said the three-time New York City mayor's recently unearthed remarks that appeared to belittle farmers and factory workers were intended to be perceived in a "historical context."
"I think you're characterizing his comments in a way that's useful to you which is fine but I have a different take on it," O'Brien said Monday after "The Story" guest host Ed Henry pressed him on the issue. "Mike was speaking about the need I think all of us share, to make sure that all American workers get the training they need and have the access to the high-quality education and training that they need to help become competitive forces in the global economy."
"And," he continued, "I think he is putting the comments about farmers into a historical context."
Bloomberg's comments came during a 2016 sit-down discussion at Oxford’s Said Business School, where the billionaire claimed he could "teach anybody in this room" to be a farmer.
"The agrarian society lasted 3,000 years and we could teach processes. I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer," he said. "It's a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that. Then, we had 300 years of the industrial society. You put the piece of metal on the lathe, you turn the crank in the direction of the arrow and you can have a job. And, we created a lot of jobs. At one point, 98 percent of the world worked in agriculture, now it's 2 percent in the United States."
Bloomberg’s 2016 comments, which prompted bipartisan backlash, continued a trend of old remarks coming back to haunt the billionaire's bid for the presidential nomination.
Asked to respond to a recent Washington Post report claiming that the candidate told an employee to "kill it" when he learned she was pregnant, O'Brien maintained Bloomberg's denial, adding that he has "evolved and changed."
Bloomberg already "explained that by saying he didn't say that and he has stood by that for quite a long time," O'Brien fired back.
"I think Mike Bloomberg over the last 30 years has evolved... some men evolve and don't change, and some men evolve and take action, and Mike Bloomberg has evolved and taken action," he continued.
O'Brien urged women voters to look at Bloomberg's actions, saying, "Everything about his policies and position in this campaign, the way that he's empowered women in the company and the philanthropy and in the campaign speak much louder than those words."
"But," he added, "if Mike has said anything offensive to women, he regrets it and is ready to apologize for that."
"If Mike has said anything offensive to women, he regrets it and is ready to apologize for that."
Henry further pressed O'Brien on another resurfaced audio clip, which showed the former mayor declaring that there's "this enormous cohort of black and Latino males" who "don't know how to behave in the workplace" and "don't have any prospects."
The clip resurfaced just days after the campaign took a hit for earlier remarks made by the candidate, who insisted that the way to get guns "out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them."
"Michael Bloomberg is not a racist, Michael Bloomberg is an honorable, ethical, public servant," O'Brien fired back.
O'Brien also took strong jabs at President Trump, saying, "Donald Trump is not even in the same category as Michael Bloomberg," on the issue of race, adding, "If Donald Trump is a blight on the American dialogue, [then] calling Donald Trump a racist and a bigot is merely stating the facts."