On Tuesday, Michael Bloomberg officially declined running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He announced his decision in typical Bloomberg fashion: a boastful, cliche-riddled column in the billionaire’s eponymous news site. That night, Howard Schult –an erstwhile Democrat, self-declared Independent, barely-suppressed Republican–was giving a speech ($50 per ticket, glossy campaign book included) at Southern Methodist University and welcomed Bloomberg’s departure with a grin.
“The Democrats are pushing an agenda that is extremely so far left that, in my mind, it’s very close to a socialistic agenda … You saw today that one of the great mayors in modern history … decided not to run for president. He looked at the Democratic platform and realized that, as a centrist, he probably could not get the nomination.”
While Bloomberg did make some oblique references to concerns about the party nominating someone too “extreme,” it’s not obvious that he dropped out for the reasons Schultz claimed.
What Bloomberg has very clearly said, including to Schultz directly, is that an independent run for office is stupid, stupid, stupid. How does Bloomberg know this? He thrice looked into running as an independent presidential candidate (2008, 2012, and 2016) and thrice found the data–and basic logic–unyielding.
We might not know for some time what exactly led to Bloomberg’s decision. We do know–from lawsuits, quotes overheard by reporters, quotes told to reporters on the record, and allegations from female Bloomberg employees, all over the course of more than two decades–that he almost certainly would have been called out for his unrepentant sexism. Indeed, he still should be. Had he become a Democratic contender, it would have been a disaster.