Bloomberg campaign zeroes in on Sanders, casts off Biden

Biden's stunning losses in New Hampshire and Iowa has left Bloomberg as the only candidate strong enough to challenge Sanders, his campaign said

Michael Bloomberg’s campaign thinks there are only three presidential candidates who have a shot at winning the general election in November — and Joe Biden isn’t one of them.

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The former vice president’s stunning, back-to-back defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, and his subsequent plunge in the polls, has left Bloomberg as the only Democratic hopeful strong enough to challenge frontrunner Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Bloomberg states director Dan Kanninen told reporters on Tuesday.

“We are really down to a race where there are three people left who could really be considered viable to be sworn into office next year, and that’s Bernie Sanders, Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump,” he told reporters. “And of that bunch, only Mike Bloomberg has a chance to beat Donald Trump in the fall election.”

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According to a national aggregate of polls by RealClearPolitics, Sanders has a double-digit lead at 28.3 percent, and is trailed by Biden at 17.3 percent and Bloomberg at 15.2 percent. For Biden, it’s a far cry from the near stranglehold he held on frontrunner status since launching his campaign last April.

Kanninen maintained that Bloomberg, bolstered by his deep personal pockets of money and a growing coalition of support among establishment Democrats, is the only contender with the ability to derail Sanders’ path to the nomination, following his tie in Iowa with former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his victory in New Hampshire. The self-avowed democratic socialist is also expected to have strong showings in Nevada and South Carolina, whose electorates more accurately represent the diverse make-up of the country.

The three-time New York City mayor entered the race too late to participate in early-voting states and has instead concentrated his efforts, and $60 billion fortune, on the 14 states that will cast their ballots on Super Tuesday, March 3. Already, Bloomberg has spent an unprecedented $124 million in advertising across those delegate-rich states, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Candidates need 1,991 delegates to become the Democratic nominee; a combined 1,344, or about one-third of the total, will be allotted on Super Tuesday alone.

Sanders, whose anti-establishment campaign has become a financial juggernaut powered by an army of small-dollar donors, has spent less than $26 million on advertising during that same time span, according to Vice News.

“None of the other Democrats beside Mike or Bernie is in a position to amass delegates in a serious way on Super Tuesday,” Kanninen said.

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Biden’s campaign, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, hammered Kanninen as arrogant for suggesting that Bloomberg’s position is “solid or assured.”

"Mike Bloomberg has not yet endured a single debate. He has not been on the ballot in early states or won a single delegate to the convention,” Biden’s campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates told Politico.

Early Tuesday, Bloomberg secured a spot on the debate stage in Las Vegas after a fourth qualifying national poll showed him with at least 10 percent support. It will be his first national showing this election season.

He will likely be a target of other contenders in Nevada, after several unflattering audio clips of past comments he’s made resurfaced this week. In one, he defended “stop and frisk,” the controversial policing strategy he embraced as mayor that disproportionately targets men of color, and in a separate one, he blamed the end of redlining, a discriminatory housing policy that cut off largely minority neighborhoods from mortgage lending opportunities, for triggering the financial crisis.

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