'I think they're pretty happy': Bloomberg defends New York record as 2015 remarks surface

By Jake Sherman

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Mike Bloomberg 2020 met Mike Bloomberg 2015 here this afternoon, and wanted nothing to do with him.

The former New York City mayor said his remarks five years ago, in which he defended stop-and-frisk policies and blamed minorities for the vast majority of inner-city crime, do not reflect "how I led the most diverse city in the nation" or how he runs his company.

Anyway, he added, he got elected three times so "the public seems like what I do."

"Those words don't reflect the way that I've governed or the way that I run my company or the way that I live, and I've led the most diverse city in the country, and the public there re-elected me and reelected me two other times so I think they're pretty happy," Bloomberg said.

The remarks — unearthed this week, posted on Twitter and seized on by the president and his allies — come as Bloomberg is surging in national polls, and is gaining traction with the same African American voters that will be crucial to winning the Democratic nomination. Joe Biden's flagging support in Iowa, New Hampshire and nationwide leaves an opening for Bloomberg -- or so his team thinks -- weeks before Super Tuesday, the delegate-rich primary day March 3.

In a comment that sounded remarkably similar to Donald Trump's speeches, he said he did not think the years-old remarks would adversely impact his standing with African American voters.

"I think we're going to do very well in the African American community," he said. "They need a good economy, they need better schools, they want health care, they need jobs and those are the kinds of things that I can bring on."

Bloomberg's appearance here — in a state that votes in three weeks — underscored his theory of the case: that it's inefficient to solely campaign in the traditional early states, and it makes more sense to try to pick off delegates across the country.

And, at least by the crowd here today, it seems like it's resonating. More than 1,000 people showed up here for the afternoon event in which he positioned himself as the candidate most uniquely suited to take on Trump. He did note that he would ultimately support whoever wins the nomination.

Bloomberg talked twice about his financial support for Democrats, once in the rally, and again at a news conference, going as far to claim credit for the House's impeaching Trump.

"In 2018, I helped flip the House, 21 seats that made [Nancy] Pelosi the speaker and let Pelosi and the House do what the Constitution says they should do hold the president accountable, and they started the impeachment process but it all came from that," he said.