Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders

Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders
© Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is casting the 2020 primary race as a two-man battle between the former New York City mayor and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSome Sanders top allies have urged him to withdraw from 2020 race: report We're at war and need wartime institutions to keep our economy producing what's necessary Larry David: Bernie Sanders should drop out of 2020 race MORE (I-Vt.).

Bloomberg’s campaign said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that it has seen its stock rise as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSome Sanders top allies have urged him to withdraw from 2020 race: report Sunday shows preview: As coronavirus spreads in the U.S., officials from each sector of public life weigh in Trump defends firing of intel watchdog, calling him a 'disgrace' MORE's back-to-back losses in Iowa and New Hampshire have sparked questions about his viability.

“Mike is quite clearly in a strong second place in this primary and rising rapidly above the rest of the field, which is either stagnant or declining quickly,” Dan Kanninen, the Bloomberg campaign’s states director, said on the conference call. “None of the other Democrats beside Mike or Bernie is in a position to amass delegates in a serious way on Super Tuesday.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Kanninen maintained that only Bloomberg, Sanders or President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE had any shot of winning the election in November. He also cited polling and a burgeoning list of endorsements to suggest that Bloomberg is the only Democrat who can derail Sanders’s path to the Democratic nomination, which has been bolstered by strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire and persistent divisions among the primary field’s centrist candidates. 

Bloomberg has seen a recent polling surge after a months-long advertising blitz backed by hundreds of millions of his own dollars. The former mayor has enjoyed a steady rise since his late campaign launch in November, though national polls from the past weeks show him rising into the primary field’s top tier, with a new survey out Tuesday showing him in second place behind Sanders. 

The polling boost has qualified him for Wednesday’s primary debate in Nevada, where he will square off against five other presidential contenders on a national stage.

The boasts from Bloomberg’s campaign come in the aftermath of fourth- and fifth-place finishes for Biden in the first two nominating states, setting off handwringing among moderate Democrats that Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, will coast to the nomination as centrists struggle to rally around a standard-bearer.

Biden’s campaign hammered Kanninen’s comments as arrogant, saying Bloomberg has yet to prove himself in the primary contest. 

“Mike Bloomberg has not yet endured a single debate. He has not been on the ballot in early states or won a single delegate to the convention,” Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates told Politico.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bates also cited recent controversies Bloomberg has grappled with regarding past comments on stop and frisk, among other things. 

Despite recent negative headlines, Bloomberg’s campaign remains a potent force in the primary, posing a particularly stark challenge to Biden. The former mayor is overseeing an exploding staff that is focused on Super Tuesday and general election swing states that other campaigns have yet to dedicate as much time to, and a national poll last week showed Bloomberg taking a bite out of Biden’s support from black voters.

Julia Manchester contributed.