Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is turning up the heat on his Democratic presidential rivals in Florida.
Bloomberg’s staff told reporters there are only three viable candidates left: President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the former New York mayor.
On a campaign call with reporters ahead of the looming Florida primary, Dan Kanninen, Bloomberg’s state director, said it is time for Democrats to consolidate behind one candidate and understand what the long term implications are of both Super Tuesday and the March 17 Florida primary.
“Of that bunch, only Mike Bloomberg has a chance to beat Donald Trump in the fall elections,” Kanninen insisted.
Kanninen said he is thinking about the Trump campaign effort already, calling it “tremendous” and “strong.”
”We can look at the president and how he tweets. We can look at the White House and the chaos that exists on a daily basis and easily forget that amidst that chaos and undisciplined nature of him personally, his campaign is extraordinarily well organized,” he said.
Kanninen claimed the Trump campaign is afraid of Bloomberg, maintaining that was the only candidate they feared.
“Donald Trump, again and again, tweets at Mike, is obsessed with the kind of campaign we are running and the kind of statements Mike can make strongly against him. He understands that Mike Bloomberg represents everything he wishes he was in real life,” Kannien said.
To get there, the Bloomberg campaign will have to start winning. The former mayor hasn’t even been on a primary ballot yet–and won’t be this Saturday in Nevada or next week in South Carolina. Bloomberg’s strategy rests on proving the rest of his primary rivals can’t win–and hope the middle will consolidate against Sanders.
“None of the other Democrats besides Mike and Bernie are really in a position to amass delegates in a serious way on Super Tuesday,” Kanninen said in the conference call before turning his fire towards former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Although he had a very strong public polling posture through the summer and most of the fall, that has really collapsed since the campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. As you saw in the NPR/PBS/ Marist poll that came out this morning, he has dropped nine points since that last poll alone and Mike has now surpassed him, rising 15 points,” Kanninen said.
The Marist Poll shows former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg falling as well. Kanninen said this is consistent with what the Bloomberg team’s internal polling is showing.
“It is evident to us based on the trajectory of the campaign, the polling, the rise in enthusiasm in the crowds, and the surge in Mike’s support that Mike is quite clearly in a strong second place in this primary and rising rapidly above the rest of the field,” he said.
The Bloomberg campaign is at full throttle in Florida with 10 field offices already open with 135 statewide employees and plans to open 10 more field offices in the coming weeks.
Scott Kosanovich, who is directing Bloomberg’s efforts in Florida, touted the endorsements of leading Democrats including U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. However, Kosanovich insisted those 135 organizers are the key to winning the Florida primary.
“The best spokespeople for our campaign when they are talking to our communities are people that are from those communities,” Kosanovich said, adding they plan to add 65 more staffers in Florida before the primary.
To win Florida, Bloomberg has to defeat Sanders who leads in national polls and is claiming momentum. Kanninen admitted his candidate is not in first place yet–so they are going on the attack.
“When Floridians are going to the ballot box, and looking at who can take on Donald Trump effectively, they are going to see one campaign in Mike that can do it, and another campaign in Bernie that we do not think can do it, and that will be compelling in getting voters to come to our side,” he said.
The Bloomberg campaign also insisted their candidate is the only Democrat who can carry Florida in November.
Reach Mike Synan at firstname.lastname@example.org.