Bloomberg's Anti-Trump Strategy Getting Lots of Buzz

Former mayor's poll numbers are rising, and the president himself is returning fire
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2020 10:11 AM CST
Trump Aides Want to Ignore Bloomberg. Not Trump
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting Jan. 22, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Mike Bloomberg is ticking up in the polls and he's pouring millions into ads criticizing President Trump's behavior and policies—ads that seem to be irking the president if his tweets are any indication. The developments have led to a slew of stories about Bloomberg's 2020 strategy. Details:

  • Ad on Fox: This week, a blistering anti-Trump ad ran on Fox News, notes Mediaite. Drawing from a new book, it asserts that an "erratic" Trump belittled his own military generals. Fox and Friends, a show Trump watches, even brought on Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey to discuss the ad. "I think people want our commander in chief to respect the institution, and I think he weakens the country by attacking it," said Sheekey.
  • Trump fires back: Top aides have advised Trump to ignore Bloomberg because it only raises the former mayor's profile, reports the New York Times. But Trump quickly shot back on Twitter after the ad ran. "Mini Mike Bloomberg is playing poker with his foolhardy and unsuspecting Democrat rivals," he tweeted. "He says that if he loses (he really means when!) in the primaries, he will spend money helping whoever the Democrat nominee is. ... The fact is, when Mini losses (sic), he will be spending very little of his money on these 'clowns' because he will consider himself to be the biggest clown of them all - and he will be right!"

  • Copying Trump: Axios visited Bloomberg's campaign headquarters in New York and came away convinced that Bloomberg is "trying to beat the president at his own game." Team Bloomberg "believes one of the key lessons of [the] Trump campaign is that if voters see you on TV all the time, they'll take you seriously." So expect to see lots and lots of ads. The analysis delves into other aspects of the Bloomberg strategy, which involves "constantly updating and iterating videos and messages that are narrowly targeted."
  • Working? Bloomberg aide Howard Wolfson tells the Washington Post that the ad bombardment (others have focused on Trump's health care and vaping stances and impeachment) have clearly "gotten under his skin." Like the Times, the Post reports that Trump advisers including Jared Kushner are telling the president to ignore Bloomberg, without much success. The Post story says Trump is regularly asking for Bloomberg's poll numbers and refers to him as "evil."
  • Trump campaign: The official response from Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh: "It's a free country, and he can set his money on fire if he wants to. He's still in a statistical tie with the back of the pack in the Democrat field." Trump himself had a similar assessment in a CNBC interview: "He's spending a fortune. He's making a lot of broadcasters wealthy. And he's getting nowhere. His ratings are terrible."
  • That nickname: Trump uses "mini" to mock Bloomberg's relatively short stature, notes the AP, which has him at 5'-8". Says Wolfson: "If you want to think about small, Trump could fit in Mike’s pocket. The stature gap, the wealth gap, the success gap, the experience gap, the achievement gap between these two men is vast."
  • 2020 strategy: Bloomberg is ignoring the early voting states and focusing on Super Tuesday March 3. He's also spending heavily in swing states. In the view of the Post, if Joe Biden underperforms in Iowa and New Hampshire, Bloomberg (who's not even on the ballot in those states) will get a huge boost going forward. His campaign maintains that while other Democrats are sniping at each other, Bloomberg is the only candidate truly running a national campaign.
(More Michael Bloomberg 2020 stories.)

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