EMPIRE STATE OF MIND
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg Tames the Bernie Bros at DNC 2016
Michael Bloomberg had a mixed record with Democrats as mayor of New York, but his speech captivated the crowd in Philly—and nary a chant of “Bernie” was heard.
PHILADELPHIA — One mayor was too extreme. One was too lame. And one was intended to be just right.
The last option was Michael Bloomberg, who billed himself as an “outsider” (he’s a billionaire) when he trotted onstage after Joe Biden took the convention crowd in Philly to church.
He is a registered Independent who, as former head of the Big Apple, had a mixed legacy among Democrats (*coughs loudly* stop-and-frisk, Muslim spying). But as he plodded through his DNC speech at a quick clip, sometimes falling into a “What’s the Deal with That?” Seinfeld cadence, the crowd was particularly receptive to his pitch.
“There are times when I disagree with Hillary,” Bloomberg said. “But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”
Even at that stage, there were no audible chants of “Bernie” as an alternative to the foregone conclusion.
Bloomberg had regional quips: “I’m a New Yorker and New Yorkers know a con when we see one!”
He had Mark Cuban-esque billionaire quips: “Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.”
And he summed up a convincing argument about the ramifications of a Trump presidency: “Trump is a risky, reckless and radical choice. And we can’t afford to make that choice!”
Earlier this year, Bloomberg poll-tested the possibility of an independent run and immediately ruled it out—he hit 17 percent in a prospective matchup against Trump and Sanders. There simply was not enough room for two New York billionaires in the strangest presidential election of all time.
But Bloomberg was surprisingly effective in a speech that, on paper, sounded something like a Medium post and he managed to overshadow the current mayor of New York, who spoke hours before him.
Bill de Blasio, gangly and goofy, plowed through a quick speech during the grandparents’ dinner hour. The Clintons’ ally, whose role in their orbit has diminished since he has been enveloped a corruption scandal, was bumped from prime time for Bloomberg, a former Republican who supported spying on American Muslims in New York during his administration.
“Hillary Clinton—she’s smart, she’s steady, she’s right, and she’s ready,” de Blasio said as some in the audience looked at their phones.
If two former New York mayors in Philadelphia wasn’t enough for a race with two New Yorkers duking it out for the presidency, Rudy Giuliani also showed up.
As part of the counterprogramming provided by the Republican National Committee, Giuliani appeared at a boxing club where The Wrestler was filmed, to assail the Democratic nominee.
“I would be surprised,” Giuliani said, “if the Russians haven’t hacked all of Hillary’s emails way back when they were sitting in [a] garage. That server of hers was less secure than the DNC server that was hacked—considerably less secure.”
If the intersecting paths weren’t completely clear, he even referenced Bloomberg, saying the mayor had taken credit for a Muslim surveillance program Giuliani helped create.
All three mayors have had interactions with Clinton that have ranged from 9/11 relief to fundraising to golf—Trump, Bloomberg, and Bill Clinton used to go on outings.
But their ability to generate excitement for or against the candidate ranged from pure vitriol to analytical reasoning.
“To me, this election is not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican,” Bloomberg concluded. “It’s a choice about who is better to lead our country right now.”
Depends on which New Yorker you’re listening to.