By Paul Steinhauser, Kelly Phares
Published February 13, 2020
Mike Bloomberg’s getting hit from the left -- and the right.
On Thursday morning, the former New York City mayor took incoming fire on Twitter from President Trump -- who called Bloomberg a “mass of dead energy” and a “LOSER” -- and from Democratic presidential nomination rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who accused the multi-billionaire business and media mogul of lying.
For Bloomberg, who’s poured hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign after jumping into the White House race just two and a half months ago, a rise in the polls and a spate of new endorsements is spurring increased scrutiny and a surge in attacks from his rivals.
“There’s no more certain indicator that you’re on the rise than when your candidacy and campaign come under attack,” veteran Democratic strategist and communications consultant Lynda Tran noted.
“It’s clear that everyone from Donald Trump on down the GOP ticket is concerned about how Mayor Bloomberg’s unprecedented resources and long track record of advocating for progressive causes from ending gun violence to tackling climate change will impact the race this year,” she explained.
Trump, taking aim at Bloomberg, tweeted: “Mini Mike is a 5’4” mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians.”
“No boxes please. He hates Crazy Bernie and will, with enough money, possibly stop him. Bernie’s people will go nuts,” Trump added as he pointed to populist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who won Tuesday’s presidential primary in New Hampshire.
But the president wasn’t done. The voracious tweeter slammed Bloomberg, calling him “a LOSER who has money but can’t debate and has zero presence, you will see. He reminds me of a tiny version of Jeb 'Low Energy' Bush, but Jeb has more political skill and has treated the Black community much better than Mini!”
Bloomberg took the jabs as a badge of honor, saying at a morning campaign event in North Carolina that “I am not afraid of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is afraid of us and that’s why he keeps tweeting all the time… the president attacked me again this morning on Twitter. Thank you very much, Donald. He sees our poll numbers and I think it’s fair to say he’s scared because he knows I have the record and the resources to defeat him.”
And responding on Twitter, Bloomberg taunted Trump, saying that “we know many of the same people in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown."
“They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence. I have the record & the resources to defeat you. And I will," Bloomberg tweeted.
The increased attacks from Trump come as Bloomberg’s seen a jump in support in the polls. He stood at 15 percent in a Quinnipiac University survey this week in the Democratic nomination race, in third place trailing Sanders and just two points behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who appears to be fading after extremely disappointing finishes in the Iowa caucuses last week and the New Hampshire primary this week.
Bloomberg’s also starting to gain traction in the polls in some of the 14 Super Tuesday states that hold primaries and caucuses on March 3, directly after the final two early voting states of Nevada and South Carolina. Even before he declared his candidacy in late November 2019, Bloomberg said he would skip the first four early voting contests and would concentrate his efforts and firepower on the delegate-rich Super Tuesday states and beyond.
The candidate touted his rising poll numbers at a campaign event in North Carolina on Thursday.
“Earlier this week a poll came out that shows I beat Trump by a bigger margin than anyone else and I’ve only been campaigning for 11 weeks. Imagine what the polls will look like in 11 months,” he said as he pointed to November’s general election.
It's not just his poll numbers that are growing -- so is the size of his campaign staff across the country. He is also seeing a rise in the number of people showing up at his events. Bloomberg, in Tennessee on Wednesday, drew more than 1,000 people to a campaign event in Nashville and 1,100 to an event in Chattanooga.
But his upward trajectory is drawing increased scrutiny -- and past comments are coming back to bite at him.
Bloomberg’s past support for his controversial “stop and frisk” policy during his tenure as mayor -- and comments from 2008 saying that the elimination of the discriminating housing practice known as "redlining" was responsible for spurring that year’s great recession -- are making headlines the candidate would rather avoid.
Warren, one of Bloomberg’s most vocal critics in the Democratic presidential primary field, quickly took aim at her rival.
“I'm surprised that someone running for the Democratic nomination thinks the economy would be better off if we just let banks be more overtly racist. We need to confront the shameful legacy of discrimination, not lie about it like Mike Bloomberg has done,” the progressive senator tweeted.
The Bloomberg campaign, responding to the burgeoning controversy, said that Bloomberg as mayor “attacked predatory lending.” They added that if he makes it to the White House, Bloomberg has a plan to “help a million more black families buy a house, and counteract the effects of redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis.”
Bloomberg went up with a new TV commercial on Thursday that emphasized how he helped black-owned businesses thrive. And one day earlier, he landed the endorsements of three members of the Congressional Black Caucus: Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York and Lucy McBath of Georgia, as well as Del. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands.
All the while, Bloomberg continues to blanket the Super Tuesday state airwaves with ads and beef up his campaign organization in those states. That spells trouble for other moderates in the race: Biden, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
“As the field continues to shake out -- we have a long way to go still -- Bloomberg has the opportunity to make the case broadly to the voters in states representing 60 percent of the delegates for Super Tuesday that he is our best chance at beating Donald Trump,” emphasized Tran, veteran of the Democratic National Committee and the Obama-era group Organizing for America.
“Bottom line, I’m sure the candidates who would describe themselves as relatively more moderate are looking over their shoulders at Mayor Bloomberg’s growing operation and rising poll numbers with great interest," Tran added.