Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg made his second Oklahoma visit of his campaign Saturday, touring the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum before holding a large rally where he criticized President Donald Trump and called for action in swing states.
TV-star Judge Judy Sheindlin, who endorsed Bloomberg in January, joined him on the campaign trail and spoke at his Oklahoma History Center rally Saturday. Former Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor also endorsed Bloomberg, according to a press release.
Bloomberg gave a roughly 15-minute speech, mainly criticizing Trump as a “schoolyard bully.”
“I won’t let him bully me, and I won’t let him bully you either,” Bloomberg said to his crowd.
Bloomberg stated he is running simply to defeat Trump. He said even if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination, he will support the candidate who does with financial and staff support.
“I’m running to restore honor to our government and build a country we can be proud of and get things done,” Bloomberg said.
One supporter, 68-year-old Robert Epstein, said he believes Bloomberg can beat Trump because the former mayor is a logical and analytical human being. He also said Bloomberg’s track record gives him an edge.
“He was mayor of New York — he did a good job in New York,” Epstein said. “I think he has the potential to be a great president.”
Bloomberg said in his speech that he played a role in flipping 21 U.S. House of Representative seats blue during the 2018 midterm election.
“Since the Republican Senate didn’t have the courage to remove the president from office, it is up to us to do it in November,” Bloomberg said in reference to the president’s recent impeachment trial.
‘I believe we need to talk less’
Bloomberg said his campaign has gotten a great response from all over the country. His campaign is for change, sanity, honesty, inclusion, compassion and human decency, he said.
Bloomberg has yet to compete against the heavyweights on the Democratic debate stage, but has been carrying his campaign by spending over $300 million on ads, and even plans on doubling that amount to boost him even further.
“Our party needs a candidate who can go toe-to-toe with [Trump] and take the fight to him,” Bloomberg said. “That’s why I’m running. To stand up for every American who has lost their job or lost their insurance or can’t pay their college tuition.”
Bloomberg said he believes the country needs less talk and more action.
“My whole career I’ve been a do-er, and I believe we need to talk less, have less partisanship, less division, less tweeting — in fact what about a commitment — no tweeting in the Oval Office,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg’s ‘Greenwood initiative’
In Bloomberg’s first trip to the Sooner State over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, he visited the Greenwood district in Tulsa, the site of the Tulsa race massacre in 1921.
There he announced his plan to fight racial inequality.
“It was one of the ugliest episodes of racial violence in our nation’s history, but few history books teach it at all,” Bloomberg said. “I believe that we have to confront that history head on.”
Bloomberg said his ‘Greenwood initiative’ has three big goals: increasing black home ownership by 1 million people, doubling the number of black-owned businesses and tripling the wealth of black families to make a dent in the “racial wealth gap,” he said.
Bloomberg said other ways to carry this plan out will be by investing more into historically black colleges and universities, which he said Trump promised to do.
“While the president promised to support [HBCU’s], he broke that promise just like virtually every other promise he has made,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg, however, started his presidential campaign by apologizing for aggressive “stop-and-frisk” policing strategies that he pushed while for a decade while mayor of New York City. The policy resulted in the disproportionate stopping of black and Latino people all over the city.
Campaigning over caucusing
Bloomberg has not spent much time in the earliest primary states like Iowa for the recent caucuses and instead will be campaigning in the South during the New Hampshire Democratic primary next week. According to Politico, Bloomberg pulled in only 20 votes in the Iowa Caucus last weekend.
But Bloomberg is pouring millions of his own dollars into advertising and is currently on a bus tour called the “Get it Done Express,” which started in California on Feb. 3, and will end in North Carolina on Feb. 13, according to a press release.
“I know you don’t see many presidential candidates here in Oklahoma,” Bloomberg said. “The other candidates have spent the last year camped out in a couple of early primary states and spent very little time in the rest of America, and I don’t think that’s good for our country, or for our party for that matter.”
Bloomberg served three terms as mayor of New York City, two as a Republican and one as an independent.
During the 2020 primary season, Oklahoma has been visited by former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Those first two candidates have since left the race.
“We need to win states that Donald Trump carried in 2016, and that starts by spending time in those states,” Bloomberg said. “Listening to voters and earning their trust and support — that’s what I’m trying to do here.”
Former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters, who is on the executive committee for the Democratic National Convention, said he is trying to be helpful to any candidate who comes into the state and isn’t endorsing anyone.
Walters called Bloomberg an “impressive guy” and said he will be able to put resources together.
“I like them all, but I find that Mayor Bloomberg has got such strength and management in team building, and certainly has a large number of resources that — when Trump and Russians spend $2 billion dollars — he’ll spend four,” Walters said.
Walters also noted that there are attempts to organize a presidential forum on Feb. 27, which will bring a number of candidates to the state, he said.
State Rep. and Democratic Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) was also in attendance Saturday but said she has not yet determined who she is supporting in the race.
“I want to make sure that I get to go to as many events as possible so that I can do my research about candidates,” Virgin said. “So I am still undecided.”
Virgin said she has gone to multiple events for other candidates, but was happy to know that Bloomberg has a focus on climate change, which she said it’s something she and her constituents in Norman are looking for in a candidate.
“I think that Mayor Bloomberg also understands the importance in investing in states like Oklahoma, even for Democrats. That’s something we haven’t seen really from any presidential campaign in the past,” Virgin said. “So for him to invest in Oklahoma like he has been, it’s certainly encouraging for people like me who are working on the ground here.”