Immediately upon hearing that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire CEO, was toying with launching an independent presidential bid, my thoughts turned to the 1992 presidential election. That was the last time a third-party campaign was self-funded by a billionaire businessman, a man named Ross Perot, who dramatically impacted the final election results.
Could Bloomberg become 2016’s version of Ross Perot? Potentially yes – but this year it is likely that Bloomberg’s votes would be siphoned off from the Democratic nominee, increasing the odds that the Republican candidate wins the White House.
With this scenario looming on the political horizon, I say, “Run Bloomberg, Run!”
And if he does, oh, the irony! Even more so if the Democratic presidential nominee, like the 1992 nominee, has the last name of Clinton.
Remember how plain-speaking Ross Perot managed to win 19 percent of the popular vote? Most of his voters were disgruntled Republicans, who, absent Perot, would have reluctantly voted for and subsequently re-elected incumbent President George H.W. Bush. Instead, Perot’s candidacy resulted in Bill Clinton winning the White House with only 43 percent of the popular vote, compared to Bush’s 37.5 percent.
Perot did not win one electoral vote. But he is remembered as the man whose candidacy enabled a young governor from Arkansas to be elected the nation’s first baby boomer president while defeating an incumbent from World War II’s “greatest generation.”
And the Clinton’s have been in our face ever since.
It has been widely reported that the chances of Bloomberg diving into the presidential race greatly increase if Hillary falters, (or he believes that she will be indicted); if Sen. Bernie Sanders is on track to win the Democratic nomination; or if Bloomberg is totally “galled” by the success of Donald Trump. Any or all of these scenarios are possible and even probable.
How does this all play out? Let’s assume for a moment that Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination. With Trump clearly dominating the media, the polls and twirling the Fox News debate like a baton – even the left-leaning Daily Beast has now proclaimed Trump the “most electable Republican.”
Surely, the fight for the Republican nomination has officially become an absurd reality show with Trump playing his familiar leading role as the ultimate authority figure.
While the “Trump Show” garners high ratings both on and off the Fox News Channel debate stage, Bloomberg’s people say March is when he will announce his decision.
Every Republican should be praying for Bloomberg to press go and spend a billion.
Besides the 1992 election replay, a Bloomberg candidacy could have a positive, humbling effect on Trump (who is in need of much humbling) and actually make him a better general election candidate.
Imagine if Trump could no longer brag excessively about his riches and business acumen because Bloomberg’s response would likely be, “anything you can do I can do better.”
And just looking at the numbers, Bloomberg would be right.
For starters, Forbes estimates Bloomberg’s net worth at $36 billion. Then it ranks the CEO of the giant financial reporting and media company that bears his name as the 44th most powerful man in the world.
Trump, by comparison is a far lesser titan. Forbes estimates Trump’s wealth at only $4.5 billion and ranks him the 72nd most powerful man in the world.
When it comes to self-made bragging rights, Bloomberg’s billions are entirely his own doing, while Forbes gives Trump a self-made ranking of 5. This number code stands for “inherited a small or medium-size business and made it into a ten-digit fortune.”
Furthermore, with Bloomberg in a three-way race, one would think that Trump would be forced to speak less about his personal greatness and instead offer more specific policy details.
Such a change in Trump’s demeanor is likely because Bloomberg, besides being somewhat of a policy wonk, does not make his mega-wealth the foundation of his public persona.
Trump, with no prior elected experience, might also be humbled and overshadowed by Bloomberg’s political resumé as the three-time elected mayor of New York City. That experience is analogous to Bloomberg having been president of a small country or governor of a small state.
With a long history of working together and traveling in the same New York City social circles, you can bet that these two will know how to press each other’s buttons – making for maximum political amusement.
Naturally, Trump-supporting Republicans loath Bloomberg, who they generally consider an unabashed traditional liberal who defines “New York values.”
In fact, Bloomberg checks the liberal box on every issue, from gun-control, to abortion, to climate-change, to government health care, to being soft on illegal immigration and perpetrating nanny-state regulation. From the Bernie Sanders-loving Democratic perspective, Bloomberg is Wall Street – the hated 1 percent. That is precisely why he is not running inside the Democratic Party presidential candidate track.
Meanwhile, Trump is a showman with a bombastic personality and an emotional message to “Make America Great Again.” (But don’t ask him how he will work with Congress to make that happen.)
With the people fed-up, Trump has used his celebrity status to become the avenger of all that has gone wrong with our nation. Trump’s emotional message sprinkled with fear, has allowed him, as a tremendously flawed candidate, to garner great success on the national stage.
And because that “stage” is cracking, Trump has convinced a majority of Republican primary voters that he alone has all the tools needed to make the repairs.
Supposedly, according to media reports, Bloomberg has contempt for Trump’s bravado in general and is even jealous of Trump’s new found political success. Thus, if he decides to run and spends at least a billion dollars on his campaign, Bloomberg has unlimited potential to become a successful independent candidate on the order of Ross Perot circa 1992.
Bloomberg could strongly appeal to liberal and traditional Democrats, and even independents who find Sanders not up to be commander in chief or just don’t trust Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, if ALL Republicans can unite behind their party’s nominee, while attracting a good chunk of angry independent voters and frustrated Democrats – then a Bloomberg candidacy could peel off Democrat votes in key states and help the Republican nominee win.
Run, Bloomberg, Run! You could hold the keys to a Republican White House.