Michael Bloomberg confirmed to the Financial Times on Monday that, yes, he was considering a presidential run. "I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters," Bloomberg told the paper in the first instance on record of Donald Trump being called "banal."
It's been about two weeks since the New York Times first reported that Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent former mayor of New York City, is interested in running a third-party presidential campaign. At the time, the report added that Bloomberg has already "taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign."
The Washington Post reported late yesterday that the former mayor isn't done floating trial balloons.
The Financial Times' article has been restricted to the newspaper's subscribers, which is why I haven't linked to it directly.
Bloomberg would hardly be the first hyper-wealthy American to launch a third-party presidential campaign, but he might be the first to be motivated by concerns over "the level of discourse." As a rule, candidates for the nation's highest office are principally focused on substantive, not rhetorical, goals.
At least for now, it's difficult to say with confidence just how serious Bloomberg may be about this endeavor. As we discussed two weeks ago, the former NYC mayor spent a fair amount of time in 2008 considering an independent White House bid, and then repeated the process in 2012. In both instances, Bloomberg's interest caused a stir, but he eventually passed on the campaigns.
The problem, of course, is that there is no realistic scenario in which Bloomberg is actually elected president. Indeed, in the two weeks since people close to him first launched this trial balloon, there's been no public clamoring for his potential candidacy.
The only people cheering Bloomberg on are Republican officials and insiders, not because they see a great national leader, but because they see him as a candidate who would help split the center-left and make it that much easier for the GOP to control the White House and Congress in 2017 and 2018.
Whether or not Bloomberg recognizes this is unclear.
As for what happens now, the former mayor reportedly intends to "conduct another round of polling after the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 to gauge whether there is indeed an opening for him."
If Bloomberg is waiting for evidence that millions of Americans are crying out, "Run, Mike, Run!" he's likely to be disappointed.