Billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men, has formally launched a Democratic bid for US president.
Ending weeks of speculation, the 77-year-old former Republican announced his candidacy Sunday in a written statement posted on a campaign website describing himself as uniquely positioned to defeat President Donald Trump.
He will quickly follow with a massive advertising campaign blanketing airways in key primary states across the US.
“I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,” Mr Bloomberg wrote.
“We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions,” he continued.
“He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage.”
Mr Bloomberg’s entrance comes just 10 weeks before primary voting begins, an unorthodox move that reflects anxiety within the Democratic Party about the strength of its current candidates.
As a centrist with deep ties to Wall Street, Mr Bloomberg is expected to struggle among the party’s energised progressive base.
He became a Democrat only last year. Yet his tremendous resources and moderate profile could be appealing in a primary contest that has become, above all, a quest to find the person best-positioned to deny Mr Trump a second term next November.
Forbes ranked Bloomberg as the 11th-richest person in the world last year with a net worth of roughly 50 billion dollars (£39 billion).
Mr Trump, by contrast, was ranked 259th with a net worth of just over three billion dollars (£2.3 billion).
He did not say how much he would be willing to spend overall on his presidential ambitions, but senior adviser Howard Wolfson did: “Whatever it takes to defeat Donald Trump.”
Mr Wolfson also said that Mr Bloomberg would not accept a single political donation for his campaign or take a salary should he become president.
Mike Bloomberg is placing $34 million in TV ads in one weekâthe most of any presidential candidate in history.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 23, 2019
Thatâs one way to pay less under my #WealthTax. Because in a Warren administration, he and his billionaire friends would finally have to pay their fair share. https://t.co/qWHtk37zaM
Even before the announcement was final, Democratic rivals like Bernie Sanders pounced on Mr Bloomberg’s plans to rely on his personal fortune.
“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,” Mr Sanders tweeted on Friday.
Elizabeth Warren, another leading progressive candidate, also attacked Mr Bloomberg on Saturday for trying to buy the presidency.
“I understand that rich people are going to have more shoes than the rest of us, they’re going to have more cars than the rest of us, they’re going to have more houses,” she said after a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire.
“But they don’t get a bigger share of democracy, especially in a Democratic primary. We need to be doing the face-to-face work that lifts every voice.”
Mr Bloomberg does not speak in his announcement video, which casts him as a successful businessman who came from humble roots and ultimately “put his money where his heart is” to effect change on the top policy issues of the day – gun violence, climate change, immigration and equality, among them.