Bloomberg: Sanders and Warren Could Have Been Billionaires Had They Worked Hard

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Duane Townsend

Vanity Fair - December 6, 2019

If Michael Bloomberg thought his fellow 2020 Democratic candidates would welcome him into the fold, he was sadly mistaken. Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have accused him of trying to pay his way into the White House. “People of this country do not want to see a billionaire buy an election,” Sanders said last month, “and that is precisely what Mr. Bloomberg is trying to do.” Bloomberg responded on Friday in his first televised interview since announcing his presidential bid, essentially telling Gayle King, It’s not my fault they didn’t have the good sense to become billionaires.

“They’re criticizing me for it,” Bloomberg said, explaining that he’d earned his wealth through years of hard work. “Ask them what they’re doing. Why didn’t they do that? They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money.” Bloomberg argued that his deep pockets actually mean he can’t be bought, as he implied some of his rivals could. “I’m doing exactly the same thing they’re doing, except that I am using my own money,” he said. “They’re using somebody else’s money, and those other people expect something from them.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s an argument Trump used to trot out during his 2016 campaign; while the notion that self-funding a campaign automatically makes you a maverick may have worked on some of Trump’s core supporters, it didn’t pass muster with those outside his base. It seems equally unlikely that Bloomberg’s version of it will do much to allay his critics’ concerns here. The same goes for the rest of his comments; Bloomberg dismissed concerns that the Democratic field, once the most diverse in history, had come to focus on white, mostly older, mostly male candidates like himself, suggesting that contenders like the “well-spoken” Cory Booker might be doing better if they were better candidates. “You had a lot of diversity in the candidates, some of whom were very competent,” Bloomberg said. “Why they aren’t there as you narrowed it down, you have to talk to other people who are experts. I don’t know.”

He added, “Lots of people can enter. If you wanted to enter and run for president of the United States, you could’ve done that. But don’t complain to me that you’re not in the race. It’s up to you.” That assessment runs counter to that of Booker and Julian Castro, who’ve said in recent days that Kamala Harris’s 2020 bid was brought to an end, at least in part, because the media and political establishment held her to a double-standard as a woman of color.
Read full interview report at Vanity Fair

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