A three-word chant – “We want Mike” – reverberated through Minglewood Hall in Midtown as former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg made a pre-Super Tuesday presidential tour stop on Friday morning.
“If you want Mike, and I hope you do, first we have to win the primary election,” Bloomberg said as he took the stage.
The Memphis visit was the first of three stops Bloomberg planned for Tennessee ahead of Tuesday’s Presidential Preference Election. Seventy-three delegates are awarded in Tennessee; 64 are pledged based upon the outcome of the election.
After expressing an affinity for Memphis and recognizing Mayor Jim Strickland, who introduced him, Bloomberg spotlighted issues he said result from “incompetent leadership in the White House.”
Topping his list was President Trump’s recent response to the coronavirus.
“The President is not a scientist,” Bloomberg said. “He is not leading. He is reacting, and really much too late. And he’s downplaying the crisis, predicting that it will be over in two months.”
Pointing out funding cuts to the Centers for Disease Control since Trump took office, Bloomberg saddled Trump with a “failure to invest in emergency situations like the current coronavirus crisis.”
Pivoting to the economy, Bloomberg said, “The incompetence in the White House is destroying our economy. …
“This week the stock market has plunged, partly out of fear because investors have no confidence that the President is capable of managing funds.”
Bloomberg touted his 12-years of experience as mayor of the largest city in the United States.
“Unlike the other candidates, I don’t just talk about doing things. As the former mayor of New York City, I have a record of reaching across the aisle and getting things done.”
As for the likelihood of unseating the incumbent president, Bloomberg said he is the only Democratic Party contender who could beat Trump by pulling votes of Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans.
The billionaire businessman has plowed more than $460 million of his own money into his bid for the Democratic Party presidential nominee, spending $220.6 million in January alone.
“If you think this campaign is expensive, just think about how much four more years of Donald Trump would cost this country,” he said.
A small group of protestors showed up outside Minglewood Hall in opposition to Bloomberg’s self-financed campaign. Among their signs was one that read, “Our Democracy Is Not For Sale.”
In stark contrast to the protestors were several local elected officials, including State Rep. London Lamar (D-91), who rallied support for Bloomberg.
“Mike has the resources and the plan to beat Donald Trump,” Lamar said. “Memphis, we must remain focused on the real enemy and that’s Donald Trump.”
Strickland referred to Bloomberg as the “mayor of all mayors,” asserting that most city leaders across the country want to emulate Bloomberg because of his success in New York City.
“He’s fearless. He’s effective. He’s an important voice on issues this country faces,” Strickland said.
Strickland endorsed Bloomberg in January, a month after Bloomberg visited Memphis and unveiled a healthcare plan to rebuild and expand on the Affordable Healthcare Act.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg and his team opened a headquarters in Downtown Memphis. As he concluded his message to Friday’s crowd, Bloomberg emphasized the importance of getting citizens to the polls, urging attendees to encourage the people they know to get out and vote.
“And if they ask you what my campaign is about,” he said, “tell them I’m running to beat Donald Trump.”
On Saturday, February 29th, West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon will host a Mike for Black America: Building Generational Wealth rally at the Eugene Woods Civic Center Civic Center, 212 West Polk in West Memphis. Several current and former mayors, who have publicly endorsed Mike Bloomberg, in addition to other community leaders, are expected to join McClendon during the event, which is set for 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.