Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed back on criticism for entering the Democratic presidential race, saying that he has “the same rights as everybody else.”
Asked by “CBS This Morning” during his first televised interview since announcing his bid after the range of reactions to his entry, Bloomberg said: “I have the same rights as anybody else. Does it take an ego? Yeah, I guess it takes an ego to think that you could do the job.”
“I have 12 years of experience in City Hall. and I think if go back today and ask most people, they would say that, not me, but the team that I put together made an enormous difference in New York City and New York City benefited from it, and continues to benefit from it today what we did then.”
Bloomberg, 77, described himself as a “social liberal, fiscal moderate, who is basically nonpartisan.” He said he was a Democrat in Massachusetts and New York City because there are essentially no Republicans in either case. Bloomberg ran for mayor in 2001 as a Republican and was re-elected in 2005 before pushing the City Council to get the term limits extended and winning a third term. He has also been an Independent.
“I do believe that most of the public is in the middle,” he said on Friday.
He said about critics saying he’s trying to buy the election by pouring in tens of millions of his own money: “I’m doing exactly the same thing they’re doing, except that I am using my own money, they’re using somebody else’s money, and those other people expect something from them. Nobody gives you money if they don’t expect something. And I don’t want to be bought.”
Asked about his apology for stop and frisk, a policy his administration implemented in New York City that was credited by some for helping stem crime in the city, Bloomberg said that “nobody asked” him about it until he announced his presidential bid.
“I’m sorry. I apologize. Let’s go fight the NRA and find other ways to stop the murders and incarceration. Those are things that I’m committed to do.” Bloomberg released a gun plan on Thursday that would ban “assault weapons” and require people buying guns to get permits first.
Bloomberg also responded to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). who recently decried the lack of racial diversity at the top of the field after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) dropped out of the race.
“It would be better the more diverse any group is but the public is out there picking and choosing and narrowing down this field. The truth of the matter is you had a lot of diversity in the candidates, some of whom were very confident, why they weren’t there as you narrow it down, you’d have to ask the experts.”
“If you wanted to enter and run for president of the United States, you could have done that. But don’t complain to me that you’re not in the race. That was up to you. … Entry was not a barrier,” he said.