It's official: Mike Bloomberg is running for president. And he is about to spend millions of dollars to tout the millions of dollars he has already spent combating President Trump and the coal industry.
The former New York mayor, who is one of the richest people in the world, entered the crowded 2020 Democratic primary on Sunday after weeks of teasing a self-financed campaign. He unrolled a multipronged pitch to voters that included trumpeting his extensive environmental philanthropy since stepping down as mayor in 2013.
In a campaign video released Sunday previewing the issues he will focus on in the race, a narrator notes how Bloomberg both “stood up to the coal lobby” and to “the outright denial of this administration” on climate change.
Those lines appear to refer to at least two past spending endeavors by Bloomberg: The more than $100 million he put into the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign to press for the closure of coal plants, and a grant of nearly $6 million in 2017 into a New York University School of Law center helping state attorneys general challenge the Trump administration's rollback of environmental rules.
When it comes to campaigning for the Democratic nomination, that spending is both a blessing and a curse. Bloomberg has real bona fides in the environmental movement for his philanthropy, but his candidacy comes at a moment when many Democratic voters are deeply skeptical of the power billionaires wield in politics.
To that point: Bloomberg's campaign team is dropping more than $30 million to reserve television advertising to launch his last-minute bid. That sum is on top of his jaw-dropping $100 million ad campaign in key battleground states targeting Trump exclusively.
One of Bloomberg's rivals, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said in a statement he was "disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any other billionaire thinks they can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy our elections."
Bloomberg has butted heads with the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party before. When Barack Obama was in office, he irked some environmentalists by praising natural gas as a “bridge fuel” between coal and renewable sources. And more recently, he criticized Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Green New Deal as politically unrealistic.
So far, the Bloomberg campaign has focused on what the former mayor has already done on climate change — not what he would do if president. Bloomberg's newly refurbished campaign website claims his data-driven mayoral administration reduced New York's carbon footprint by 14 percent, planted 800,000 trees and added 850 acres to parks.
— Storming the field: Hundreds of climate change protesters poured onto the field at halftime of the Harvard-Yale football game on Saturday, holding signs and chanting “OK boomer."
- The scene: The game was delayed for nearly an hour, and players from both teams joined the demonstrations in a “showstopping escalation,” The Post’s Jacob Bogage and Hannah Knowles report. “Protesters sat at the 50-yard line at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn., arms linked and chanting, as banners echoed calls for urgent change championed by lawmakers and activists around the country.”
- What they wanted: More substantively, students from both universities want the schools to both divest their endowments from the fossil fuel industry and to forgive debt owed by hurricane-hit Puerto Rico.
- 2020 candidates weigh in: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro and billionaire activist Tom Steyer each tweeted out their support of the protest.
When people come together to stand up for justice, we win. Congratulations to the young people demanding a sustainable future for our planet. We are with you in this fight. https://t.co/l86n85UIcy— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 23, 2019
From the March for Our Lives, to worldwide Climate Strikes, students and young people are leading the charge to protect their futures.— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) November 23, 2019
I’m inspired by their efforts to hold their universities to a higher standard. https://t.co/tbskzCRvSa
These students have it right—nobody wins when we’re complicit in climate injustice. Institutions like Harvard and Yale must be leaders in the fight to address the climate crisis. https://t.co/ZEpugkfmjv— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) November 23, 2019
— Trump vs. California: Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the move to rescind California’s waiver to set its own vehicle emissions standards.
- Their argument: “EPA doesn’t have the authority to withdraw a waiver, and, even if it did, none of the justifications put forth stand up to scrutiny,” Mike Landis, an attorney for Environment America, said in a statement. Environment America was one of 11 groups to file the lawsuit alongside the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and others. The lawsuit follows a similar legal action from California and other states.
— EPA bans consumer use of chemical found in paint stripper: The Environmental Protection Agency’s ban on consumer sales of methylene chloride, a toxic chemical used in paint and coating strippers, went into effect on Saturday. Numerous major retailers, including Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes, have already banned products containing the chemical. “EPA’s action keeps paint and coating removers that contain the chemical methylene chloride out of consumers’ hands,” EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “It is against the law to sell or distribute methylene chloride for paint and coating removal in the retail marketplace — a step that will provide important public health protections for consumers.”
— Rick Perry avoiding the heat: The energy secretary is preparing to step down from his post on Dec. 1, but amid the House impeachment inquiry, he has declined to cooperate with a congressional subpoena and has so far avoided tough questions, CNN reports.
- “Key questions about what he knew and when have gone unanswered, and Perry's aides appear to have shielded him on multiple occasions from questions about revelations in this week's testimony,” per the report. " … Perry avoided reporters' questions at two speeches he delivered earlier in the week. When he spoke to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Energy Department officials shielded him from reporters by sending what appeared to be an empty decoy SUV driven by his security officers to the building's front door while Perry slipped through a different door.”
Fox & Friends preview an interview with Rick Perry, where he says that Trump is "the chosen one" and "sent by God to do great things"— Courtney Hagle (@CourtneyHagle) November 24, 2019
Pete Hegseth: "God has used imperfect people forever," but what Trump "has withstood is unlike what really any other mortal could understand" pic.twitter.com/ITDAErMJiN
- God's "chosen one": Meanwhile, "Fox & Friends" previewed Sunday evening an interview with Perry, in which he says Trump, despite his flaws, is an instrument of God. "God's used imperfect people all through history," Perry said. "King David wasn't perfect, Saul wasn't perfect, Solomon wasn't perfect."
We are occupying the office of @PeteButtigieg because South Bend, & the entire US, needs a Green New Deal.— Garrett Blad 🌅 (@gblad) November 22, 2019
Pete’s climate plan for South Bend is not good enough. Why? Because we need drastic action NOW.
This is an emergency & Pete needs to act like it. Everything is at stake. pic.twitter.com/FnHroWkGRW
— Protesters visit Pete Buttigieg’s office: Demonstrators with the Sunrise Movement occupied the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s office, calling on him to treat climate change as an emergency and to take more aggressive action for the city.
- What Sunrise says: “Pete’s climate plan for South Bend is not good enough. Why? Because we need drastic action NOW,” Sunrise Movement representative Garrett Blad tweeted. The activist group told ABC57, the local ABC affiliate, that it wants Buttigieg to update his climate plans "so that there's accountability when it comes to pollution."
- What Buttigieg’s campaign says: In a statement, Buttigieg’s presidential campaign touted the mayor’s environmental record. “From constructing the first LEED-certified South Bend city government buildings, to implementing green infrastructure in neighborhoods throughout the area, to responding to historic flooding caused by climate change, the Mayor has led from the front on climate," the campaign said. As president, Buttigieg says he wants to get the country to net-zero emissions by 2050.
“I don't hate him. I feel sad for him,” Jane Fonda said about President Trump to @VanJones68. “And what he's doing to the world...is just criminal.”— CNN (@CNN) November 23, 2019
Watch the full interview on “The Van Jones Show” at 7 p.m. ET on CNN. https://t.co/e8MTiT7X1w pic.twitter.com/eW0ACce2eh
— “I feel sad for him”: Actress and activist Jane Fonda accused Trump in a CNN interview of being “in bed with the fossil fuel industry” and said “what he’s doing to the world … is just criminal.” “[Trump's] behavior is the behavior, it’s the language of people who have been traumatized,” Fonda said. “And you have to hate the behavior but don’t hate the person. I don’t hate him. I feel sad for him. And what’s he’s doing to the world is just criminal, it’s just criminal, it’s terrible. But there are more of us, and we can make a difference.”
— Experts warn about the threat of 5G technology: Negotiators announced a long-awaited global deal to determine how companies should deploy 5G technology, but data from federal agencies and the World Meteorological Organization shows that it could pose a risk to weather forecasting accuracy. “Studies completed before the negotiations by U.S. government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the Navy had warned that 5G equipment operating in the 24-gigahertz frequency band could interfere with transmissions from polar-orbiting satellites used to gather weather data,” The Post’s Andrew Freedman reports. “This could make forecasts much less reliable, the reports found.”
- Politico hosts an event on environmental issues and the 2020 presidential election on Dec. 4.
— How much do you know about climate change? Take a quiz from Ryan Bacic and Aviva Loeb from The Post’s new Climate Solutions page to see how much you know about the basics of climate science.