Mike Bloomberg’s highly-disciplined presidential campaign was suddenly facing a crisis beyond its control.
As his staff was planning a week of events in Super Tuesday states and hoping to capitalize on continued feuding among his rivals, a 2015 audio clip of Bloomberg making charged remarks about young black and Latino men unexpectedly surfaced online. Surprised and jittery aides were troubled hearing Bloomberg remark on tape that most murders are committed by young “male minorities” who are so similar that they could all be described on a standardized “Xerox” form distributed among police officers.
Inside Bloomberg’s sprawling Manhattan headquarters, his team sprung to action: Emails started flying before sunrise about how to respond. Strategies about how to handle President Donald Trump’s tweet calling him a “total racist” were debated. And staffers gathered for a morning meeting worried about how to manage black surrogates and supporters whose endorsements were to be rolled out that week.
Meanwhile, in a conference room at his Times Square headquarters, the mayor assembled about 20 black pastors for a pre-scheduled meeting that lasted more than two hours and included face time with Bloomberg. The meeting was originally planned to discuss Bloomberg’s latest initiative aimed at helping African Americans, but the recording quickly came up.
The episode broke at an important juncture for Bloomberg. The billionaire businessman has gone virtually unchecked by rivals even as he’s bombarded the country with hundreds of millions in TV ads, amassed a staff of nearly 2,500 and risen steadily in polls, including among African Americans. His candidacy has gained steam on the strength of his unlimited checkbook and the weakness of his Democratic opponents, none of whom look poised to run away with the nomination. Read more