vision 2020

Report: If Biden Is Out, Bloomberg Is In

Bloomberg during an exploratory trip to New Hampshire in January. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is reconsidering his decision to not seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2020, according to Axios.

The billionaire has reportedly been telling friends that he could join the crowded Democratic primary field if “a centrist lane were to open up,” Mike Allen writes. That would only happen if Joe Biden, who Bloomberg thinks attracts the same type of voters he would, doesn’t get into the race.

That possibility looks more real now that it has at any moment in the past six months. In recent days, Biden has faced criticism over inappropriately touching at least two women. Lucy Flores, a former Nevada lawmaker, wrote on the Cut about an incident in 2014 when Biden planted “a big slow kiss on the back” of her head. After Flores shared her story, Amy Lappos, a Connecticut woman who met Biden in 2009, shared her own encounter with him which she said crossed lines of “decency” and “respect.”

Biden has denied ever intentionally acting inappropriately, but the women’s stories have led to broader critique of his record. In a piece on the Cut, “Joe Biden Isn’t the Answer,” Rebecca Traister called him a “paternalistic lawmaker for whom it is perhaps easier to write legislation protecting women than it is to simply listen to, believe, and take seriously women, their stories of harassment, or their decisions about their own bodies and health care.”

While Biden’s potential 2020 rivals aren’t calling for his head, some observers are. If the 76-year-old decides to sit out 2020, it appears there’s a 77-year-old waiting in the wings to fill his shoes as the moderate grandfather.

But unlike Biden, Bloomberg would enter the race after already declaring his intention not to run. On March 5, he wrote an op-ed that said he would forgo a presidential bid in order to launch a new initiative called “Beyond Coal.” Also unlike Biden, Bloomberg would join a crowded field as one of its most unpopular contestants. In a Morning Consult poll taken shortly before he announced he’s not running, Bloomberg was the favorite of just 2 percent of Democratic voters. Compare that to the 33 percent (more than any other candidate or would-be candidate) that put Biden at the top of the heap. But as Democratic candidates report their fourth-quarter fundraising hauls, it also seems worth noting one distinct advantage Bloomberg would have over Biden and anyone else in the race: He’s worth $58 billion dollars.

Report: If Biden Is Out, Bloomberg Is In