While Mike Bloomberg struggled with stage presences on Wednesday, the democrat debate showed he's become the candidate to beat.
Wednesday was a tough night for Mike Bloomberg as he took the stage for his first-ever Presidential debate. His opponents, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden had a rare bonding moment that night as they joined forces to pile on Mr. Bloomberg. He was accused of everything from racial profiling and sexual misconduct to buying his way into the White House. Sound familiar? It should— that’s exactly what people said about current President Donald Trump.
The attack on Mike Bloomberg underscored just how dangerous a candidate he’s become— a fact that wasn’t lost on Trump. The morning after the debate, Trump made fun of “Mini Mike’s” performance. By all accounts, Bloomberg wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of criticism he received on Wednesday. But Trump’s tweet coupled with the other Democrat’s eagerness to take him down suggests that Bloomberg is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
As Bloomberg’s campaign manager Kevin Sheekey put it
You know you are a winner when you are drawing attacks from all the candidates. Everyone came to destroy Mike tonight. It didn’t happen. Everyone wanted him to lose his cool. He didn’t do it. He was the grownup in the room.
There’s a reason the other Democrat candidates are afraid of Mike Bloomberg— he’s a powerful man. Not only does he have an unrivaled campaign war-chest, but he also has access to a great deal of valuable data. That means he can run a well-funded, expertly targeted campaign. That’s something no other candidate can compete with.
Not only that, but Bloomberg is anti-establishment without being too ‘out-there.’ At last night’s debate, we saw Elizabeth Warren draw comparisons between Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg— a link that isn’t hard to make. Both men started out as businessmen, both have switched between parties, and both have been caught making inappropriate comments in the past.
Warren brought up some of the things Bloomberg allegedly said to coworkers that were compiled in a book by one of his employees. That was back in 1990, three decades ago. Though Bloomberg has never admitted to saying the things written in the book, he did acknowledge that he has made disrespectful comments in the past that he regrets.
In a way, Warren’s insistence on condemning Mike Bloomberg for comments made three decades earlier makes the former New York mayor more relatable. After all, he isn’t a career politician with a carefully groomed image. That’s what many Republicans saw in Trump and it could be something that pulls Democrats tired of the establishment in Bloomberg’s direction.
It’s unlikely that an establishment candidate will be able to beat Trump, so that leaves Bloomberg and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as the most viable Democrat candidates. Bernie Sanders has strong support from his grass-roots campaign and has become a leader in nation-wide polls. But some believe that Sander’s ultimately can’t beat Donald Trump because his politics are too far left.
Bloomberg, on the other hand, represents an anti-establishment vote with a much more moderate appeal. Bloomberg’s previous life as a Republican means his politics are much closer to the center than any of his peers within the Democrat party. That makes Bloomberg appealing to Republicans who’ve lost faith in Trump, Democrats who want someone isn’t controlled by the political machine, and independents who are looking for someone who isn’t a slave to either party.
Not only has Bloomberg struck fear into the hearts of his Democrat opponents, but he’s also starting to worry Mr. Trump. That’s because Mike Bloomberg is a better version of Trump himself. When Trump ran in 2016, many attributed his success to his unparalleled focus on advertising and social media. Bloomberg has the benefit of his own company’s data collection to do what Trump did in 2016, but even better.
His namesake company has built its reputation on leveraging mass amounts of data. Over the past few years, he’s acquired several political platforms the will make running a data-based campaign even more successful. At least half of becoming a successful candidate is based on effective advertising and Bloomberg is well equipped to do that.
To be sure, Bloomberg doesn’t have the stage presence of Donald Trump. Trump’s background on reality TV prepared him to deal with the mudslinging that comes along with politics. By contrast, Mike Bloomberg hasn’t been part of a debate for over a decade. For that reason, Mr. Bloomberg did appear to struggle with the multi-front attack his opponents launched during the democrat debate.
Bloomberg came in second, after Bernie Sanders, in the NPR/PBS poll. That’s an impressive feat considering he was a late entrant to the race and wasn’t able to participate in most of the debates. Back in February 2016, many were brushing Donald Trump off as a bumbling, incompetent fool after he too was attacked on the debate stage.
The next few weeks will be crucial for Mr. Bloomberg as his data-driven campaign takes off. As Sheekey put it:
He was just warming up tonight. We fully expect Mike will continue to build on tonight’s performance when he appears on the stage in South Carolina next Tuesday.