As Democratic field narrows, Mike Bloomberg strikes defiant tone

Questions continue to be raised on whether he's felt the heat to exit the race.

March 03, 2020, 3:06 PM

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg struck a defiant tone Tuesday at a campaign stop in Miami, dismissing questions about the viability of his candidacy amid former Vice President Joe Biden’s surge ahead of Super Tuesday, while also acknowledging that a contested convention was his most likely path to the party’s nomination.

As the Democratic field narrows, Bloomberg -- a candidate who has spent more than half a billion dollars of his own money since launching his campaign 100 days ago -- acknowledged that a contested convention remained his best shot to secure the party’s nomination rather than earning a majority of pledged delegates before Milwaukee.

"I don't think I can win any other way," he said.

Super Tuesday -- when 14 states and one territory cast their ballots and nearly 1/3 of the total pledged delegates are up for grabs -- is a significant turning point in the 2020 presidential race. The candidates are not only tested on a national scale, but the results could potentially provide more clarity on who will ultimately face off against President Donald Trump come November.

It is also the first time Bloomberg will officially be on the ballot.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks during a press conference at his campaign office in Little Havana, Miami, March 3, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks during a press conference at his campaign office in Little Havana, Miami, March 3, 2020.
Marco Bello/Reuters

After saying hello briefly to the volunteers in his Miami campaign office, he headed straight for the microphone.

When pressed on whether he thought his campaign would pick up any wins on Tuesday, Bloomberg answered pointedly.

"I don't know whether we're going to win any," he said of the 15 contests, adding that it’s not about winning states, but about winning delegates.

Since Saturday’s primary in South Carolina breathed new life into former Biden’s campaign and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- then the perceived front-runner -- came in second, three candidates dropped out of the race: Businessman Tom Steyer, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Shortly after, Klobuchar and Buttigieg put their support behind Biden, along with former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke -- also a former 2020 presidential candidate.

PHOTO: People vote in the Super Tuesday primary at Frizzell Parrish Hall in Annandale, Va., March 3, 2020.
People vote in the Super Tuesday primary at Frizzell Parrish Hall in Annandale, Va., March 3, 2020.
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

With only five candidates left in the race, questions have been raised on whether the billionaire still sees a path forward or has felt the heat to exit the race and join behind Buttigieg and Klobuchar, backing Biden as a moderate candidate.

After reporters asked him if his presence in the race would propel Sanders further toward the nomination or ultimately take votes away from Biden, Bloomberg shushed them.

"I don't know why that's the case," he said, later adding "Joe’s taking votes away from me."

"We have no intention of dropping out, we are in it to win it," he told reporters. "I don’t understand … why you would not ask everyone else that ... When you ask [Biden] that, you can call me."

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks with people eating breakfast at El Pub Restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood, in Miami, March 3, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks with people eating breakfast at El Pub Restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood, in Miami, March 3, 2020.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The billionaire has come under scrutiny lately for his past, including alleged inappropriate comments toward his female employees under non-disclosure agreements, his record on race and criminal justice, and how he has leveraged his wealth in his campaign.

His Democratic rivals didn’t hesitate to bring these issues up on the debate stage either.

And while Bloomberg has kicked himself over his recent debate performances, he brushed off any notion that it would affect his campaign moving forward.

"I never wanted to be chief debater," he told reporters. "But I do want to be commander in chief."

While the Florida primary is still two weeks away, a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson said his trip to the Sunshine State is reflective of the billionaire's strategy, focusing in on swing states.

“Florida is the next major step in this election and we are looking ahead," the spokesperson said in a statement. "The Die is essentially cast in Super Tuesday states. Always said we were focusing on battleground states.”

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