Crude comments that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg previously made about women resurfaced this week, threatening to cast a shadow over his potential 2020 run.
There are multiple, well-documented instances, some that date back decades, where Bloomberg made seemingly sexist or derogatory comments about women — remarks that are likely to draw fresh scrutiny in the era of the #MeToo movement as the 77-year-old billionaire gears up to launch a presidential campaign.
Bloomberg’s campaign on Thursday issued a statement acknowledging his history of insensitive comments about women and sexual assault, but stopped short of a full apology. The New York Times first reported the news.
“Mike has come to see that some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong,” Stu Loeser, an adviser and spokesperson for Bloomberg’s campaign, told FOX Business. “He believes his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life.”
In the mid-to-late 1990s, four women filed sexual harassment suits against Bloomberg LP. Details that emerged from those included Bloomberg allegedly telling a sales executive to “Kill it!” when she informed him that she was pregnant. When discussing the same sales executive getting married, Bloomberg allegedly said, "What, is the guy dumb and blind? What the hell is he marrying you for?” before asking a week later, "Still engaged? What, is he that good in bed, or did your father pay him off to get rid of you?" During a deposition, Bloomberg admitted that he said “I’d do her” about the sales exec, but insisted that he thought “do” meant to have a personal relationship with someone. Bloomberg eventually settled with the sales executive, but the results of the settlement were never made public.
“I think [the comments] certainly could have an impact, in the sense that obviously there has been a great deal of criticism of similar types of sexist or incendiary comments coming from President Trump before he was in office in regards to women and things of that nature,” said Capri S. Cafaro, the former Ohio Senate minority leader.
The problem is not unique to Bloomberg. Democrats are trying to unseat a president who’s been accused of sexual assault by 25 women; at the end of 2017, Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, was pressured to resign from the Senate after seven women came forward and said he’d groped or tried to forcibly kiss them. And earlier this year, former Vice President Joe Biden, a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, was forced to address complaints by several women that he made them uncomfortable with his physical conduct.
“Democrats have been the most critical of President Trump’s sexist and inappropriate comments,” Cafaro said. “Therefore you can only extrapolate that they will be equally critical of Michael Bloomberg.”
Still, Bloomberg’s defenders say that his record speaks for itself. As New York’s mayor, and in the years since, Bloomberg has donated tens of millions of dollars to support reproductive rights and women’s health causes around the world, his aides told the Times. He also, as mayor, required city hospitals to instruct resident doctors on abortion care. Bloomberg LP now offers 26 weeks of paid parental leave to a primary caregiver, in addition to benefits of gender-transition surgery.
“At this point,” Cafari said, “anything is possible, as 2016 showed.”