MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg poised to swoop into the presidential race with a more than $30 million ad dump, an expensive play being derided by some of his top Democratic rivals — and that some New Hampshire voters say they’re not buying.
“Elections should not be for sale, not to billionaires, not to corporate executives,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Saturday in Manchester, adding that the rich “don’t get a bigger share of democracy.”
Bloomberg’s ad buy is the latest signal one of the richest men in the world will make a late entrance into the 2020 presidential race, relying on his wealth to launch an 11th-hour bid that will reportedly skip early nominating states like New Hampshire — where his rivals have spent months building extensive ground games and voter networks. While former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick rushed to get his name on the first-in-the-nation primary ballot, Bloomberg skipped it entirely.
“Telling billionaires they can just come and buy elections, that doesn’t make democracy work,” Warren said.
Speaking to reporters after her 575-person Manchester town hall — the second event of her 23rd visit to the Granite State since January — Warren said, “We need to be doing face-to-face work that lifts every voice.”
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who started a three-day sweep through New Hampshire on Saturday, tweeted, “I’m disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any billionaire thinks they can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy elections.”
He told New Hampshire voters Bloomberg is a “symptom of the problem that we have, the power of the billionaire class.”
Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, told the Herald, “I can’t imagine that billionaires having more power and trying to buy an election is the change that the American people want. I’m actually quite happy that he wants to go down this road, because it crystallizes the problem of our political and economic system.”
Strategists are split over whether Bloomberg’s candidacy could prove a lightning rod for the progressive senators.
Sanders and Warren have built their candidacies on breaking apart the influence of the upper crust — see Warren’s recent “billionaire tears” merchandise. But University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala said “it probably wouldn’t be worthwhile for Sanders and Warren to pick a fight” with the latecomer given his absence from the first primaries and caucuses. Bloomberg aides also indicated he would not accept political donations if he runs for president nor would he take a salary if he wins.
Some voters told the Herald they were displeased to see a second billionaire join the hunt for the Democratic nomination.
Londonderry Democrat Sangita Patel worried Bloomberg “will just be trying to buy his way into office. He is no different than Trump, just another billionaire watching out for his interests.”
Marc Nozell, a Merrimack Democrat, said, “I don’t think the whole outsider businessman is what we need for president.”
Democrat Robert Kearney of Carlisle, Mass., chalked the late entrances of Bloomberg and Patrick up to money and ego, saying Warren’s campaign “is gaining momentum, and momentum is what wins elections.”
But Hampstead independent Karl Hubner would have liked Bloomberg to jump in sooner, saying, “He is the best choice for more moderate Republicans and some moderate Democrats.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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