As Democratic polls show Bernie Sanders in the lead, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg began to tease a possible White House run as a third-party candidate on Saturday. Bloomberg would likely only run if either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz was the Republican nominee and Bernie Sanders the Democratic nominee. Bloomberg, who amassed great wealth from his eponymous financial services company, is willing to spend a whopping $1 billion on a campaign. He has reportedly set a deadline to decide on a campaign for March, making the results of the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses important for the former mayor. A Hillary Clinton win in Iowa would stymie Sanders’ prospects for the nomination.
Bloomberg told NBC News’ Chuck Todd in October that he was “very flattered” people would ask him about running for president, but he didn’t tip his hand on a decision. “The truth of the matter is I’m very happy doing two things: running my company and working with the United Nations and with the U.S. government on climate change,” Bloomberg said in a joint interview with Secretary of State John Kerry. Bloomberg previously commissioned a poll late last year to determine interest in a potential run. According to Bloomberg associates, internal polling revealed that he would probably take away more Republican votes from Trump and Cruz than Democratic votes from Sanders.
If Bloomberg entered the race, he would join a crowded field as Trump and Cruz have taken over the conversation on the Republican side. Many establishment Republican figures have come out against Cruz, whose divisive political tactics have irked some on the right. On the Democratic side, the race is unexpectedly close between Clinton and Sanders. Clinton entered the race as the prohibitive front-runner, but Sanders has proved competitive in Iowa and New Hampshire, as the Vermont independent senator has attracted big crowds at his rallies. Ohio governor and Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich told CNN in New Hampshire Saturday that he isn’t worrying about Bloomberg’s plans, but added that he likes the mayor.
I just worry about doing my thing and we’ll see what happens. But, you know, he was a good mayor of New York, and if he wants to run, it will probably stimulate the debate. I’m all in favor of that.”
Speculation of a White House run by Bloomberg has existed for years, who was previously a Democrat but then switched to the Republican party to seek the NYC mayoralty in 2001 but later ran for his third term as an independent. The New York Post reported that New York Democrats approached Bloomberg to gauge his interest in a presidential run.