No one buys an election in America. You guys assume voters are helpless pawns, unable to resist TV ads. If that were the case, Tom Steyer would be on the stage. Most people in America do not know me because I have not spent decades in Washington. I had to introduce myself, and I had to make up for the year (and the millions) you all spent up until now. But I’ve also been all over the country, drawing crowds and meeting with voters. Once they get to see and know all of us, voters will make up their minds.
But here’s the thing: As long as campaign finance rules are the way they are today, President Trump is going to keep raising money from his rich friends — some of whom he then pardons. I will not allow him the opportunity to go unchecked as he tries to flood social media, TV and radio with disinformation. I need — as does the Democratic Party and the country — every advantage we can get against him. The most important thing is to beat Trump. Whether the nominee is me or someone else, I will spend whatever it takes to beat him. The survival of our democracy is at stake. I don’t think the party wants to rely on a nominee who is going to turn away help. There is no virtue in losing to Trump.
No one is going to accuse me of being in the pocket of rich donors. I have put out a comprehensive plan to rein in Wall Street. I’ve probably done more than anyone on this stage personally to combat the gun lobby and to fight climate change. I will not be bought, and what’s more, I will win.
That is not going to win over the super-progressive wing of the party nor satisfy those who elevate purity and poverty over beating Trump. But for Democrats desperate to win, many will not care that Bloomberg has a bigger wallet than Trump can ever amass. In fact, they might be relieved to find out that for once, Democrats cannot be outspent by Big Insurance, Big Business, Big Pharma and the rest of the rogues’ gallery.
Bloomberg is no Oprah Winfrey, but if she ran and offered to spend her fortune to elect herself or any other Democrat, would voters care? If Franklin Delano Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy — both men of inherited wealth — were running today, would Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) denounce them as villains of the little guy?
The real issue here is whether Bloomberg shares the values of Democratic voters and whether he can win. Instead of tempting voters to latch on to the one person who might be able to outspend Trump, Warren and Sanders (and the rest) might think about challenging Bloomberg on his own record and past support for Republicans.
If voters conclude Bloomberg’s heart is not in progressive reform, his record is lacking or he has too many weaknesses to beat Trump, Democratic voters might rule him out. But honestly, voters might like having unlimited money on hand to beat Trump. Who wouldn’t?