“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
Bloomberg will put his resources “in the broadest way possible behind Joe Biden’s candidacy,” Tim O’Brien, a senior adviser to the Bloomberg campaign, said Wednesday. “We have long-term leases and long-term contracts with the team and the intention was always to put this big machine we have built behind whoever the nominee is.”
Biden spoke by phone with Bloomberg Wednesday morning, according to a Bloomberg adviser, and Biden signaled publicly that he will welcome Bloomberg’s financial support, drawing a sharp contrast with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose advisers have said they would reject any independent assistance from the billionaire.
“This race is bigger than candidates and bigger than politics,” Biden declared in a tweet addressed to Bloomberg Wednesday morning. “It’s about defeating Donald Trump, and with your help, we’re gonna do it.”
Bloomberg, a media tycoon worth an estimated $60 billion, entered the race in November and quickly spent hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money to flood social media, television and radio with ads that boasted “Mike Will Get It Done.” In a still-crowded field, Bloomberg projected an image through the airwaves as a moderate candidate with the governing experience, bravado and financial resources to take on President Trump.
Through exorbitant sums of money and despite skipping the first four state nominating contests, Bloomberg managed to rise in national polls, earning the ire of fellow candidates who accused him of trying to buy his way to the nomination. His unconventional campaign schedule also meant Bloomberg avoided any truly unscripted public appearances until the Feb. 19 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, for which he qualified after the Democratic National Committee changed its rules to eliminate a donor threshold.
Debating for the first time in more than a decade, Bloomberg appeared stoic and shaky in a performance that was widely panned. In particular, he was on the receiving end of several significant hits from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who opened the debate referencing allegations that he had made profane, sexist comments toward women.
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against, a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians,’ ” Warren said within the debate’s first few minutes as Bloomberg stood stone-faced to her right. “And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
Later in that debate, Warren cornered Bloomberg on nondisclosure agreements his former employees had signed regarding sexual harassment or gender discrimination.
“We have a very few nondisclosure agreements,” Bloomberg acknowledged on the stage. “. . . None of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told. And let me just — and let me — there are agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet and that’s up to them. They signed those agreements, and we’ll live with it.”
The Bloomberg campaign waved off his debate performance, vowing he would shake off the cobwebs in time for the next debate in South Carolina. But in a sign of their fear that her criticism had struck a vein, he later released three women from their NDAs; he said those were the only women who had made personal accusations about comments he made.
His focus remained on delegate-rich Super Tuesday states, where Bloomberg had been heavily advertising in the hopes of seizing support from underperforming moderate candidates — including former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) — as well as blunting the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
He did not win any of the 14 states that were up on Tuesday.
He began mocking his Nevada debate performance and was seen as doing better in a South Carolina debate, but the contrast between his smooth ads and his persona on the stage was so jarring that his poll numbers began to decline.
Worse for Bloomberg, Biden resurrected his candidacy with a strong showing in the Feb. 29 South Carolina contest and moved to consolidate the moderates who Bloomberg had hoped would flock to him in the event of a Biden collapse.
The day before the Super Tuesday primaries, in which Bloomberg appeared on the ballot for the first time, Klobuchar and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden. Former candidate Beto O’Rourke, a onetime congressman from El Paso, also endorsed Biden the night before Texans went to the polls.
Bloomberg spent Super Tuesday campaigning in Florida, insisting that he planned to stay in the race until the Democratic convention in July.
When a reporter asked whether he risked taking away votes from Biden, Bloomberg suggested Biden had as much responsibility as him to winnow the field.
“Joe’s taking votes away from me right now. I think that is true,” Bloomberg said. “Have you asked Joe whether he is going to drop out? When you ask him that, then you can call me.”
Bloomberg refused to set a bar for his own performance in the Super Tuesday voting, saying he was not sure he would win any state.
“I have no expectations for today,” he said about the voting happening around the country. “But we will have a decent number of delegates.”
He also acknowledged that his only path to the nomination at this point was a contested convention, resulting when no candidate receives a majority of the pledged delegates.
“I don’t think I can win any other ways,” he said. “But a contested convention is a democratic process.”