Vermonters filled the event room at the Echo Leahy Center, and a spillover room, and a second spillover room to hear presidential hopeful and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (D-N.Y.) on Monday, Jan. 27.
“If you ever want to have a successful event always get a room too small,” Bloomberg quipped. But he brought a more serious message too: unseat President Donald Trump. And he told local reporters he thinks he is the only candidate who can achieve that.
“I’m here to do two things,” Bloomberg said. “One, replace Donald Trump. Two, pull this country together.”
About 320 people gathered to hear the former mayor speak. According to Bloomberg’s Vermont State Director, Chris Di Mezzo, Bloomberg was the first presidential candidate to campaign in Burlington – home of fellow presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – this year. Sanders did, however, make a campaign stop in Montpelier last May.
Bloomberg hopes to take his message to states all over the country, not just those early nominating states.
During his 20-minute address, Bloomberg spoke of his 12-year stint as mayor of New York City, and his achievements during that time. Among them, were reducing crime and poverty rates, aiding movements around gun safety laws, closing coal-fired power plants, equal rights and women’s right to choose, he said. By the numbers, Bloomberg’s three terms saw 500,000 jobs created, 175,000 units of affordable housing added, a 30% reduction in street homelessness and a three-year increase in life expectancy in New York City, he said.
“My whole career I’ve been a doer, a problem solver,” Bloomberg said. “I hold myself accountable for results.”
Asked about the controversial stop-and-frisk policing policy enacted during his time in office, Bloomberg said it helped drop the city’s murder rate, but that the city had “done too much of it.”
As president, Bloomberg said he would work on issues including the opiate epidemic, tobacco and vaping industries, gun safety legislation and climate change. Health insurance for everyone and quality public education also made his talking points.
“I’ve always believed that real leadership starts with integrity,” he said. “This is a campaign for change, for sanity, for honesty, for inclusion and for human decency.”
Bloomberg is confident he can go toe-to-toe with Trump. He cited former experience campaigning against Trump on issues like tobacco, gun legislation and the environment.
As for bridging the nation’s current divide, Bloomberg acknowledged it wouldn’t be without challenge.
“Leadership is everything,” he said. “We have a president that’s trying to divide, and we need a president that tries to pull people together.”
As mayor, Bloomberg worked with a republican senate and a democratic house. His terms saw both republican and democratic governors. But, Bloomberg said, his administration got “virtually every piece of legislature” it asked for passed, even the more controversial measures.
“It was just because I was able to explain to people why it’s a good idea to get people together,” he said.
In a statement that brought to mind Sanders’ political revolution, Bloomberg said he thinks the country would prefer an evolution.
“I think the country wants an evolution rather than revolution,” he said. “Our country likes an awful lot of what we have, they just don’t like the style, and so they’re not looking for big change ... in anything other than management and how we conduct ourselves.”
Bloomberg plans to run his campaign without contributions. He won three mayoral races that way and says it is part of his values.
“I don’t take any money from anybody,” Bloomberg said. “It just sets an image and an attitude that I’m uncorruptible [sic].”