Democratic White House candidate Andrew Yang on Friday praised Michael Bloomberg ahead of the former New York mayor’s potential entrance into the party’s presidential primary — but cautioned that the billionaire businessman would face significant headwinds in the nominating contest despite his considerable financial resources.
“I’m friendly with Mike, and he’s a great philanthropist, was a really stellar mayor,” Yang, a tech entrepreneur, told CNN. “But I will say it’s going to be very, very difficult for him to jump in right now and somehow replace the thousands of conversations that many of the candidates have had with voters in New Hampshire and Iowa and around the country with ad buys.”
Yang added that “there are limits to what money can do,” and predicted Bloomberg is “going to have his work cut out for him” if he joins the pack of 17 Democratic candidates vying to challenge President Donald Trump in next year’s general election.
Yang’s remarks come after reports that Bloomberg is preparing to file paperwork to qualify for Alabama’s Democratic primary ahead of a Friday deadline, maneuvering toward a 2020 run after previously announcing in March that he would not seek the presidency.
While Bloomberg’s centrist political ideology could pose an electoral threat to more moderate candidates including former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., the news of his possible campaign drew immediate criticism from the Democratic pack’s two top-polling progressives.
“Welcome to the race, @MikeBloomberg! If you’re looking for policy plans that will make a huge difference for working people and which are very popular, start here,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote Thursday on Twitter, including a link to an online calculator showing how much billionaires would owe the federal government under her proposed wealth tax.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also offered an implicit rebuke of Bloomberg, tweeting: “The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared.”
Yang was more deferential to his prospective competitor Friday, acknowledging that while a Bloomberg candidacy is “probably going to change the price of advertising” for other Democratic campaigns, “certainly Mike has a very valuable perspective to offer” in the already crowded field.
“As an American, I’m glad that he’s looking at the race because he’s an extraordinary leader and has done a lot for the country,” he said.
Yang also suggested Bloomberg’s reconsideration of wading into the primary fight was rooted in an aversion toward the economic platforms of liberal candidates including Warren and Sanders.
Both senators have engaged in pugilistic rhetoric targeting billionaires and large corporations, and have suggested redistributing wealth from the highest-income Americans to fund ambitious policy plans such as Medicare for All.
“I can’t speak for Mike, but if you look at the numbers, I think he’s concerned that there are a couple of front-runners that have economic perspectives that differ substantially from his, and that he wants to make sure that his perspective gets represented,” Yang said.
“You know, this is a democracy,” he continued. “You can’t fault someone for putting their hat in the ring, and I believe that Mike has a lot to add. He’s done a lot for the country over the last number of years.”
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