Bloomberg Suspends Presidential Bid

Mar 4, 2020
Originally published on March 4, 2020 10:38 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

Michael Bloomberg is suspending his presidential campaign. He made the announcement a little while ago. He had a disappointing finish in last night's Super Tuesday primaries. He announced that he is endorsing Joe Biden. NPR's Susan Davis has been covering the Bloomberg campaign in Florida. She's with us now.

Good morning, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Noel.

KING: So why is Bloomberg ending his campaign? What did he say?

DAVIS: Well, it made me think of former Democratic candidate, Andrew Yang - it's just math.

KING: Yeah.

DAVIS: He was - in a statement, Michael Bloomberg talked about delegate math. He walked away from Super Tuesday with very few delegates - I think, at latest count, is 44 - simply just not enough to make any case that he has a claim to the nomination. If you consider the money he spent, over $500 million on a national ad campaign, that breaks down to just over $11 million per delegate.

KING: That's extraordinary. Five hundred million dollars is sort of an unheard-of amount for an individual to spend on a campaign. What happens to this huge campaign apparatus that he built, all those people that he hired that we've been talking about this whole time, thousands and thousands?

DAVIS: Right. It's not just the ad money, right? He has over 2,000 people on his campaign staff. One thing that Bloomberg has said and continues to say - and again, hinted at in his statement this morning - is that he intends to keep some element of this apparatus in place. He is committed to spending - he hasn't put a dollar figure on it. But he has unlimited resources to helping elect the next president, which he believes will be Joe Biden.

Now, what does that look like? It could look like ad spending. It could look like money that's sent to state parties to help get-out-the-vote efforts, to help with canvassing, to help identify voters. I mean, essentially, if Joe Biden needs resources, Mike Bloomberg is out here saying, I'm willing to give you whatever you need to win.

KING: That's extraordinary. I'm out of the race, but my money is still in it (laughter).

DAVIS: And someone with the kind of money that no one else has ever been able to inject into the political system. And one of the things that I think is interesting about this is this is, in theory, on paper, something that the Democratic Party is against. It's in their party platform. House Democrats have put forward legislation for campaign finance reform. Allowing one wealthy individual to input untold sums of money into the political system is not something Democrats tend to say that they support. But now that Bloomberg is saying that he's willing to do it to defeat Donald Trump, you're not hearing as much protests within the Democratic Party.

Now, certainly, there are voices in the party who do not believe that Michael Bloomberg should be able to do this. Bernie Sanders has been critical of him. Elizabeth Warren has been critical of him. But will Joe Biden be? That's a good question going forward. And will Joe Biden welcome not just his endorsement but his money?

KING: Is Michael Bloomberg's endorsement important for Joe Biden at this point?

DAVIS: You know, I think it - I don't know, unto itself, if the Bloomberg endorsement is the same equivalent of, like, the Jim Clyburn endorsement before north - before South Carolina that helped propel him to a big victory there. But it does help Joe Biden's argument that the nomination is consolidating behind him, that the party is consolidating behind him, and it further continues the momentum he had in South Carolina. He comes out of Super Tuesday in the delegate lead. He comes out with largely positive press, more and more endorsements. It's creating a reality where Bernie Sanders' case against Joe Biden at this moment seems hard. We've seen a lot of twists and turns in this race.

One other candidate to think about, Noel - Elizabeth Warren...

KING: Yeah. Yeah.

DAVIS: ...Also did not have a good night last night, similar to Michael Bloomberg. Questions about how much longer she can stay in this race. Her campaign has confirmed to our colleague, Asma Khalid, that she, too, is taking time to assess where her campaign is at. So it looks like we could have Elizabeth Warren out of this race, making it a much clearer two-man race for the nomination.

KING: NPR's Susan Davis.

Sue, thanks so much for your reporting.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.