Bloomberg brings campaign to Philadelphia with help from former Mayor Nutter

Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg campaigning in Philadelphia on Tuesday, 2/4/2020 (Photo via )

By Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg said the Democratic Party has taken African-American voters for granted as he stumped in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

During the rally, Bloomberg got support from former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and former Eagles linebacker Dhani Jones.

Nutter, a co-chairman of the Bloomberg campaign, called Trump “the most dangerous person on the planet.” He said Bloomberg’s success in business and as mayor of New York City has prepared him for the White House.

“At a time of great crisis, at a time of challenge, at a time of recklessness and gridlock in Washington, D.C., it is time for Mike Bloomberg,” Nutter said.

Bloomberg remains one of 11 candidates running in the Democratic primary. He entered the race late and did not qualify for any Democratic debates.

Bloomberg decided to skip the first handful of nominating contests, including the Iowa caucuses held on Monday, and was focusing on states holding their Democratic primaries in March. The Democratic primary in Pennsylvania is April 28.

Bloomberg has spent nearly $300 million on advertisements, according to news reports.

In a one-on-one interview with The Philadelphia Tribune after the rally, Bloomberg acknowledged racism is still prevalent today. He said the top issues facing African Americans in 2020 are discrimination, a lack of access to education that contributes to poverty, and a failure of the federal government to prevent redlining, among other things.

Asked about the racial makeup of his top-level staff, Bloomberg said he had a “whole bunch” of diversity, including Nutter and Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, who is African American.

Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-Democrat, was a long-time supporter of the police tactic of stop and frisk and pushed for its use in New York City when he was mayor. He has apologized for using the policing tactic, but said “it did bring down the muder rate” to historically low levels in New York City.

“I can’t go back and redo history, but I can learn from that,” Bloomberg said.

Among those waiting to get into the Constitution Center before the rally were Detra Mays and Bruce B. Rush, both 63-year-old undecided voters.

Mays, who lives in Wynnefield Heights neighborhood, said she was paying close attention to the presidential campaigns, noting her top issues were women’s rights and civil rights.

While she remained “interested very much in Joe Biden and what he’s about and what he’s going to bring to the table,” she was concerned about the former vice president’s age. Biden and Bloomberg are both 77.

Rush said he attended the rally because he had a “curiosity to see what somebody has to say that can’t be bought.”

With the general election months away, Rush said the Democratic candidate field was lacking.

“I have not been overly impressed the rest of the field up till now,” he said.

Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.