Tuesday 20 March 2018

Bloomberg enters 'banal' race for the White House

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Nick Allen

Former New York Mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, has thrown the US presidential race into turmoil by announcing he is considering running for the White House in 2016.

The 73-year-old founder of the eponymous financial information group was critical of the quality of debate in the presidential contest and, according to the 'Financial Times', has said he was "looking at all the options" when asked whether he was considering a run.

"I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters," Mr Bloomberg said. He has told aides to draw up plans for an independent campaign for the presidency.

He would be willing to spend at least $1bn of his own money on a campaign for the November 2016 election and has given himself an early March deadline for entering the race. No third-party candidate has ever won a US presidential election. But Bloomberg, who has close Wall Street ties and liberal social views, sees an opening for his candidacy if Republicans nominate Donald Trump or Ted Cruz and the Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders, the source said.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed a third-party presidential run by Bloomberg would be a long shot but could help Trump if he lands the Republican nomination.

In a match-up between Trump and Hillary Clinton, adding Bloomberg's name to the ballot would trim Clinton's lead over Trump to six percentage points from 10, according to the poll, conducted from January 23 to January 27.

Meanwhile yesterday, Trump said he was willing to look Syrian refugee children in the face and tell them they cannot come to America.

Trump, who wants to bar all Syrian refugees from entering the United States, made the pledge on the eve of a crucial vote in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The state of New Hampshire will be the second American state to make its decision and the billionaire leads by a large margin in polls. At an unusually small campaign event in the town of Salem, about 200 people packed into a modest brick building and were allowed to ask the candidate questions.

One man said he lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, where Trump has a home, and there were plans to relocate Syrian refugee families there.

He asked Trump if he could "look children aged five, eight, 10, in the face and tell them they can't go to school here."

Mr Trump did not hesitate and said he could, which brought applause from the crowd. He said: "I can look in their faces and say 'You can't come'. I'll look them in the face.

"Look, we don't know where their parents come from. Their parents should always stay with them, that's very important, but we don't know where the parents come from, they have no documentation. They may be Isil, they may be Isil-related. It could be a Trojan horse. If 2pc of those people are bad, the trouble is unbelievable."

Mr Trump added: "I have a bigger heart than anybody in this room. What we do is take an area, or areas, of Syria and build safe zones."

Trump has been the long-time front-runner in New Hampshire and the latest poll gave him a lead of 21 percentage points over his nearest rival, Marco Rubio, a Florida senator.

But the property mogul acknowledged he needed to win the state easily to remain a significant player in the presidential race.

He said: "I know about lowering expectations, but if I came second I wouldn't be happy, okay? I want to win."

Trump had been leading in polls before losing Iowa, the first state to vote, last week.

His defeat there was partly attributed to not having enough volunteers to get his supporters to the polls.

Trump risks the same thing happening in New Hampshire, where he only has 14 paid staff working for him - much fewer than other candidates.


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