Former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday that the candidates leading the 2016 presidential race are capitalizing on Americans’ outrage over a political system that is “corrupt, gridlocked and broken.”
Offering new insights into his thinking as he contemplates a third party bid for the White House, Bloomberg described the campaign as “a race to the extremes” with candidates who are exploiting voters who “have lost faith” in the country’s institutions.
“The list of supposed villains we hear about is long,” Bloomberg, a billionaire who served three terms as mayor of New York, said at a celebration for conservative author Peggy Noonan’s new book. “But the actual solutions that Americans seek have been in short supply.”
Saying that “the problems we face are very real,” Bloomberg cited “wage stagnation,” the country’s “retreat around the world,” and a “two party system that answers to lobbyists and special interests instead of the American people.”
As a result, he said, “You see the current candidates out there doing well, and not the conventional ones” — an apparent reference to the anti-establishment campaigns of Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt).
Bloomberg, 74, stopped short of offering any new clues as to whether he has made a decision about running. For more than a month, he has been exploring a campaign for the White House. His advisers have indicated that he would run as an independent and be willing to spend upwards of $1 billion.
They have also said that he is looking to several key nominating contests in March, conducting national polling and assessing whether he has time to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Thursday by the Wall Street Journal and NBC shows that Bloomberg would come in a distance third behind Sanders and Trump, if those two earned their respective nominations.
Bloomberg’s comments Thursday were first reported by The New York Times. A Bloomberg aide confirmed the remarks and provided a transcript.
His best chance, political analysts say, is to appeal to moderate voters repelled by Sanders’ liberalism and Trump’s divisive rhetoric.
“I know you don’t solve problems by pointing fingers, or making pie-in-the-sky promises,” Bloomberg said. “You solve them by bringing people together around common goals, promoting innovation, demonstrating independence, and recognizing that compromise is not a bad word.
“We will have a very bright future,” he said, “but only if we build it together.”