Three months after deciding to bet more than $500 million on his own presidential bid, Mike Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, has emerged as a legitimate contender for the Democratic nomination despite having yet to appear on a ballot.
Washington Post Photographer Toni Sandys spent a few days behind the scenes with Bloomberg on the campaign trail. Here’s what she saw.
Bloomberg takes a photo with a bystander while waiting for the subway on Jan. 28. He later walked with his security team to his campaign headquarters, located on a floor previously occupied by the New York Times.
Bloomberg spends the first part of his morning filming ads in his office, making calls and meeting with religious leaders. Since entering the race in November, Bloomberg has spent more than $344 million on television and digital advertising, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad-tracking firm.
Bloomberg makes himself a snack of peanut butter and matzoh. “I’ve spent a lot of time in synagogues in my life, but my parents taught me that Judaism is about more than going to shul,” Bloomberg said during a January speech in Miami. “It’s about living our values, including our obligations to help others.”
Bloomberg films an interview and talks to Rev. Al Sharpton before having lunch in his headquarters. His campaign is overseen by senior advisers who worked for him at city hall, his company and his philanthropic organization. He has also relied heavily on relationships he developed in New York and through his philanthropic efforts to train and offer grants to mayors around the country.
Bloomberg spends the rest of the afternoon taking calls and meeting with staffers before heading home to prepare for a trip to Texas the next day.
Digital countdown clocks hang in pairs in his campaign headquarters, one ticking toward Super Tuesday, March 3, when Bloomberg hopes to pick up delegates in 14 states after declining to campaign in the first four contests. The other aims at the general election in November.
Bloomberg’s suit bag has arrived in Houston by the next morning, Jan 29. Bloomberg has hired more than 2,100 staff members in 40 states. “I am determined to go to all 50 states,” he said at a recent rally in Chattanooga, Tenn. “If you are going to unite this country you might as well unite this entire country.”
Bloomberg meets with his campaign staff in his hotel room and prepares for a day of meetings in Houston.
Bloomberg spends the afternoon meeting with a group of Baptist ministers and speaking at the Future of Black America Symposium in Houston, as well as doing local TV interviews, before boarding his plane to El Paso.
His candidacy depends on winning a significant share of black voters, forcing him to reckon with some of his policies while mayor. Before launching his campaign, he apologized for his past support of New York’s stop-and-frisk policy, which used aggressive police tactics in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods.
Bloomberg departs his plane after landing in El Paso on Wednesday evening. The campaign for the former mayor, who is listed as the 12th richest person in the world by Forbes, has spared no expense, fully catering his rallies for voters and offering everyone who comes a free T-shirt.
Bloomberg ties a ribbon on the memorial to shooting victims in El Paso and conducts interviews with local journalists. As mayor, he focused on gun violence, eventually founding Everytown For Gun Safety, an effort to counter the National Rifle Association. But his philanthropy has also supported other causes. He’s spent millions pushing for tobacco, seat belt and helmet regulations and researching new ways to prevent malaria deaths.
Bloomberg ends his night at a Ganamos con Mike campaign rally in El Paso. An early supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, Bloomberg has invested heavily in Spanish-language ads in Southwestern states that will vote in March.
After an overnight flight from Texas to D.C., Bloomberg meets Mayor Muriel E. Bowser for coffee before she publicly endorses him for president. Bloomberg has built a network of support among fellow mayors.
Bloomberg leaves the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington and heads to his next campaign event. He will know on Super Tuesday whether his late-starting strategy of massive spending has paid off.