Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s late entry in the Democratic primary race was not exactly met with enthusiasm. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont accused him of trying to buy the presidency, and former Vice President Joe Biden said that he is in “better shape” than the former Republican and media mogul, adding that he “welcomes” the competition.
Some of Biden’s allies do not, in fact, welcome the competition, according to a new report from The Hill. According to the report, some of those close to the former vice president fear that Bloomberg’s candidacy could ruin Biden’s chances at winning the nomination, given that the billionaire is all but guaranteed to eat into fellow moderate Biden’s support. The former mayor’s entry in the race, they claim, only helps Sanders — Biden’s strongest competitor.
“Bloomberg might make this go even faster in Bernie’s direction,” a Democrat who raised money for Biden told the publication, pointing to Bloomberg’s essentially limitless war chest, and warning that Sanders could stand to profit.
“If he’s spending hundreds of millions of dollars and it’s taking votes away from Joe, there’s no question that helps Bernie.”
Bloomberg’s strategy seems fairly simple. The billionaire, who formally announced his candidacy in November, is not even on the ballot in key early states. Instead, he is focusing his efforts on Super Tuesday states and beyond, hoping to win delegates by blanketing the airwaves with ads.
According to Howard Gutman, a Biden supporter and former Obama administration ambassador, Bloomberg is “pulling votes away from Joe at a critical point,” and potentially clearing the path for Sanders.
A major Democratic donor who spoke with The Hill echoed this sentiment, asserting that Bloomberg poses a threat to Biden. According to the donor, Bloomberg’s campaign is undermining the main premise of Biden’s candidacy — that he is the only Democrat capable of beating President Donald Trump.
“They’re making voters second guess Biden’s only argument: Electability,” they said.
The Bloomberg camp has been upfront about why he is in the race. As his ally Steve Rattner explained in a recent interview, the former mayor is running in order to prevent the Vermont senator from winning the nomination.
“Over 30 percent of the delegates are going to be selected on Super Tuesday, and if we Democrats don’t have a viable centrist candidate going into that, then the Sanders train could become unstoppable,” Rattner said.
“That’s the theory of the case,” he added, pushing back against the suggestion that Bloomberg being in the race will split the moderate vote.