Bloomberg: Independent presidential bid would 'end up re-electing' Trump

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg warned on Monday that there "is no way an independent" presidential candidate "can win" and that such a bid would only ensure the reelection of President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg’s statement, published on his website, came less than 24 hours after former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that he is "seriously considering" mounting a run for the White House.

The former New York City mayor, who is himself reportedly weighing a bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020, on Monday said that data shows that an independent candidate cannot win.

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"In 2020, the great likelihood is that an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President," he said in a statement. "That’s a risk I refused to run in 2016 and we can’t afford to run it now."

Schultz, in an interview with CBS’ "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night, said he is "seriously thinking of running for president" as an independent. “I will run as a centrist independent outside of the two-party system,” he said. Schultz did not immediately respond to a media inquiry made on his website.

But Bloomberg, who has flirted with an independent presidential run in the past, said his research into such bids showed that they cannot succeed. The former New York mayor and media mogul wrote in his statement that he spent more than $100 million of his own money in the last election cycle to help elect Democrats to the House of Representatives because he "believed it was absolutely imperative to ensure a congressional counterweight to President Trump."

"Now I have never been a partisan guy — and it’s no secret that I looked at an independent bid in the past," he said in the statement. "In fact I faced exactly the same decision now facing others who are considering it."

"The data was very clear and very consistent. Given the strong pull of partisanship and the realities of the electoral college system, there is no way an independent can win," he continued. "That is truer today than ever before."

Bloomberg registered as an independent in 2007, fueling speculation that he would run as a third-party presidential candidate in 2008. His name was also floated as a potential independent candidate in the 2016 election.

The former New York mayor re-registered as a Democrat in 2018, having left the party in 2001 to register as a Republican.

Howard Wolfson, a Democratic political strategist who now works for the Bloomberg Foundation, appeared on Sunday to preview Bloomberg’s statement, saying he has also seen data that shows an independent would split the vote, potentially leading to reelection for Trump.

"I have seen enough data over many years to know that anyone running for POTUS as an independent will split the anti-incumbent, anti-Trump vote," Wolfson wrote in a tweet. "The stakes couldn’t be higher. We can not afford the risk of spoiler politics that result in Trump’s re-election."

Bloomberg, in his statement, maintained that following the midterms, "the next and most important step is to defeat Donald Trump in 2020," and that the country must "remain united" to do that.

"We must remain united, and we must not allow any candidate to divide or fracture us," Bloomberg heeded. "The stakes couldn’t be higher."