Bloomberg, 77, is a presidential contender but didn’t qualify for the debate stage because he’s largely self-funding his campaign; one of the two thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee was the number of donors.
Asked during a Wednesday morning appearance on ABC’s “The View” if he watched the debate, Bloomberg said “I did.” Asked for his thoughts, he quipped: “Best debate in 2020.”
“I didn’t learn anything, ‘he said she said.’ I suppose it’s good theater, but it didn’t address the issues of the country and what they would do. They’re not really debates, it’s precanned soundbites: everybody wants to say something that doesn’t get them in trouble, or does start a controversy that’s been pre-scripted and they think is good,” Bloomberg added.
“We should think about another format where they really, somebody picks a subject and you have to talk about that subject. That to me would make more sense than just free-wheeling, because you go from subject to subject to subject and never get two sides.”
When a “View” host said she wanted to see Bloomberg at the debate, Bloomberg said he wished he could have qualified.
Noting billionaire Tom Steyer qualified for the debate, a host asked if Bloomberg was trying to “take the easy way out.”
“No, because it’s harder to get the message out if you’re not in the debates. That gives you a lot of television exposure,” Bloomberg responded.
He said lobbyists weren’t interested in him when he was mayor of New York City because he claimed his immense wealth makes him impervious to that sort of influence.
“I do think that even if you took one dollar, it’s the look of it. I want people to talk about it: ‘This guy is incorruptible.’ And people say, ‘Oh well he’s just taking $2 million,’ it’s in one-dollar bills but it’s still $2 million,” Bloomberg said.
“And you sort of imply to people that you’re going to do something and later on if you want to change your views, you’ve already taken their money. I just think if you can afford to be self-funding, you should.”
Bloomberg, who has a net worth of $58 billion and has spent over $200 million on his campaign in just a few months, has faced criticism from rivals who have accused him of buying the election.
“I don’t believe that elections ought to be for sale,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said last month. “And I don’t think as a Democratic Party that we should say that the only way you’re going to get elected, the only way you’re going to be our nominee, is either if you are a billionaire or if you’re sucking up to billionaires.”
Bloomberg dismissed the concerns, using an argument he used when running for mayor.
“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,” he said. “Nobody gives you money if they don’t expect something. And I don’t want to be bought.”