Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that he will not run for president during this election cycle.
“I’m flattered that some think I could provide this kind of leadership,” he wrote in an essay posted on Bloomberg View, a publication dedicated to publishing short opinion pieces. “But when I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win.”
Bloomberg used the piece both to put to rest months of speculation that he may enter the race and to criticize two Republican presidential candidates.
“As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz,” he wrote. “That is not a risk I can take in good conscience.”
“I have known Mr. Trump casually for many years, and we have always been on friendly terms. I even agreed to appear on ‘The Apprentice’ — twice. But he has run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears. Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican Party, appealed to our ‘better angels.’ Trump appeals to our worst impulses.”
Bloomberg, 74, described Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States as “a direct assault” on the core American values of religious tolerance and the separation of church and state. He also criticized Trump for promising to deport millions of undocumented Mexican immigrants, “feigning ignorance of white supremacists” and threatening trade wars with other countries.
“These moves would divide us at home and compromise our moral leadership around the world,” Bloomberg wrote. “The end result would be to embolden our enemies, threaten the security of our allies, and put our own men and women in uniform at greater risk.”
He also described Cruz’s position on immigration as “no less extreme.”
“His refusal to oppose banning foreigners based on their religion may be less bombastic than Trump’s position, but it is no less divisive,” Bloomberg wrote.
He mentioned neither Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders and said he was not yet ready to issue an endorsement, though he vowed to remain vocal about what he called “partisan extremism.”
Several publications reported in January that Bloomberg was exploring a run, as the prospect of a Trump nomination transitioned from possibility to probability.
Bloomberg’s candidacy would have relied on what Gallup, the polling organization, has identified as an ever-growing number of American voters dissatisfied with both major political parties.
Voters who see Trump and Cruz as too extreme may have been drawn to Bloomberg, a former Democrat who became a Republican before ultimately declaring himself unaffiliated in 2007.
“There is a broad constituency, and there will be a broader one still, given the polarization of this election,” Douglas Schoen, Bloomberg’s pollster, wrote in a February Wall Street Journal op-ed article titled “Why Mike Bloomberg Can Win.”
His entry into the race threatened to tilt it in favor of Republican candidates.
“He would likely draw many more Democratic voters than Republicans, helping the Republican nominee win swing states or throwing the election to the House,” Stuart Rothenberg, the editor of a nonpartisan newsletter covering state and federal campaigns, wrote in Roll Call last month.
Bloomberg himself alluded to that possibility on Monday.
“I love our country too much to play a role in electing a candidate who would weaken our unity and darken our future — and so I will not enter the race for president of the United States,” he wrote.