What unites Trump and Bloomberg
Tell me if this sounds like someone you know:
Brash New York businessman with a history of scattered political affiliations and controversial ideas jumps into crowded primary, spending his own money on long-shot presidential bid.
Of course, that accurately described Donald Trump in 2015. But in 2019, it also fits Michael Bloomberg.
The former real estate mogul and television personality, against all odds, actually became president. The current media mogul and former New York City mayor is betting he can do the same, but in a very different way.
Where Trump ran almost entirely on his of-the-people cult of personality, going deep into red-state towns and holding red-meat rallies for the under-appreciated and overly aggrieved, personally engaging and even retweeting his supporters, Bloomberg's strategy is better described as, well, away-from-the-people. He's not even bothering to campaign in the first four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- and is instead relying on a $30 million national ad buy to substitute for retail politics. He's pledged to take no donations for his bid, which conceivably means he'll hold no fundraisers, meet with zero donors, and likely introduce himself to zero viewers at a Democratic debate, which requires a donor threshold to participate.
"Bold strategy, Cotton," one might say. The Democrat-turned Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat either rejects the Democratic Party's new rules -- billionaires are bad -- or thinks he is somehow above them.
That's yet another difference: Where Trump seemed to know exactly where Republican voters were in 2015, even against what polls were saying, Bloomberg, running toward the center as other Democrats are dragging debate to the left, seems out of sync with his own (current) party mood.
It's not what makes Trump and Bloomberg different that matters most, though. It's what makes them similar.
Fans of Bloomberg may wince at the comparison with the lying, cheating, race-baiting, ill-tempered and foul-mouthed Trump. After all, Bloomberg is what many non-Republicans think good one-time Republicans should be: Democrats. Aside from his well-documented history of derogatory comments about women, Bloomberg is usually well-spoken, he's perceived as thoughtful, smart and practical. His enormous philanthropic efforts are also well-established.
But like Trump, he is in one of the most loathsome and dangerous categories of would-be presidents: He is a solutionist.