Ending campaign, Bloomberg says defeating Trump his priority

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg waves to supporters as he arrives to his campaign rally at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg waves to supporters as he arrives to his campaign rally at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP) (Miami Herald Staff)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – In just over 100 days, Mike Bloomberg spent over $500 million of his own fortune in a quixotic bid for the presidency that collapsed in stunning fashion on Super Tuesday, when he won just one U.S. territory, American Samoa.

By Wednesday morning, he quit the race and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, saying his continued presence in the rapidly shrinking field would make it harder for the party to defeat President Donald Trump in November, his ultimate priority. The businessman, worth an estimated $61 billion, pledged to keep spending to defeat Trump.

"I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump, and today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump," he said at a rally of staff and supporters at a Manhattan hotel.

In a rare show of emotion, the stoic mayor became tearful when closing his speech, saying he was “amazed at how many people have stood with me shoulder to shoulder."

The farewell rally was an otherwise unusually buoyant event for a departing candidate, with staffers cheering and waving American flags. It was also in some ways reflective of the campaign he ran: one fueled by unlimited funds, high production value but little organic support.

Bloomberg's money eventually wasn't enough to sell voters on the idea that a former New York City mayor with bottomless resources was the Democratic Party's best choice. Bloomberg went from a nonexistent campaign to a staff of 2,400 people across 43 states in less than three months and said Wednesday that he received nearly 2 million votes on Tuesday. But he won none of the 14 states that voted Tuesday night and picked up just a handful of delegates in states where he had cautiously hoped for victory as recently as last week.

That was before Biden's resurgence in South Carolina and the rapid realignment of Democrats behind him. Two of Bloomberg's former Democratic rivals, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, dropped out of the race. They endorsed Biden as the moderate alternative to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders just the day before Super Tuesday.

But Bloomberg’s campaign may have been doomed from the start, said Mo Elleithee, formerly the top spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. He cited the businessman’s unorthodox decision to skip the first four primary states as an early problem.