Battle of the billionaires: Steyer jabs Bloomberg, says ‘I don’t think he should run' without backing wealth tax

CONCORD, N.H. – Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer is far from thrilled that fellow billionaire Mike Bloomberg might enter the race for the party’s 2020 nomination.

After Steyer filed to place his name on the New Hampshire presidential primary ballot, the one-time hedge fund manager turned billionaire environmental and progressive advocate took a shot at Bloomberg while answering questions from reporters.

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"I’ve traveled around full time for seven years and listened, said Steyer, who created the influential grassroots advocacy organization NextGenAmerica in 2013 and who has been one of the leaders of the push to impeach President Trump. “I feel as if anyone who doesn’t do that kind of traveling and face to face talking to Americans and more than that, listening to Americans, I don’t know how you could really in good conscience run for president."

“I feel as if, as a Democrat, I’ve said about Michael Bloomberg, if he can’t accept the idea of a wealth tax, if he doesn’t embrace it, he doesn’t understand that inequality is at the heart of the problems in America right now, then I don’t think he should run, because I don’t think he can represent the Democratic Party," Steyer added.

Steyer was in New Hampshire on the same day that Bloomberg filed to place his name on the ballot in Arkansas, hours ahead of that state’s presidential primary filing deadline. On Friday, Bloomberg’s name was placed on the primary ballot in Alabama an hour ahead of that state’s filing deadline.

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Bloomberg – the former Republican-turned-independent New York City mayor -- changed his voter registration to Democrat last year. He flirted with a presidential bid early this year but ruled out a run in March. His top advisers said last week that the media and business mogul changed his mind because he worried the current crop of 2020 Democratic White House contenders were not “well positioned” to beat Trump next November.

Tom Steyer files to place his name on New Hampshire's presidential primary ballot, at the Statehouse in Concord Tuesday.

Tom Steyer files to place his name on New Hampshire's presidential primary ballot, at the Statehouse in Concord Tuesday.

Steyer announced in January that he wouldn’t run for president but later changed his mind. Since launching his campaign in July, he’s spent at least $47 million on his White House bid, mostly on TV commercials.

Asked by Fox News if he’ll spend another $47 million on his campaign, Steyer said “at the beginning of this campaign our staff estimated that we’d spend $100 million. Do I think that that was a good guess? I have no idea.”

He went on to emphasize the importance of this presidential election, saying “when people ask me ‘What are you willing to put into this? How much do you care?’ unlimited.”

Steyer – who is pulling in the mid-single digits, far behind the top-tier contenders – noted that the race is “probably more open today than it was three months ago or six months ago ... It’s more unsettled today than when I started. I don’t think I’m going to be the last person to enter this race.”

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock – a long-shot for the nomination - also filed to place his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot Tuesday, doing so a couple of hours before Steyer.

When asked about Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is also reportedly mulling a late entry into the Democratic race, Bullock emphasized that Democrats “have to win back places we lost. I think I can do it ... I don’t know that another coastal person running is going to make that much of a difference. Look, we already have one candidate from Massachusetts [Elizabeth Warren]. Do we need another? We already have one billionaire running [Steyer], do we need another?”