Bloomberg's potential presidential bid attracts attention, creates suspense

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Billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reportedly preparing to enter the Democratic presidential primary.

Bloomberg, 77, was preparing to file paperwork this week to declare himself a candidate in the Alabama presidential primary ahead of the state's filing deadline Friday, The New York Times and other media outlets reported Thursday afternoon.

The move didn't necessarily mean Bloomberg was announcing a campaign, NBC News reported, citing a source close to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, concerned about what he's seeing both from Democrats and President Donald Trump, is doing this to keep his options open, the source added.

In a series of tweets Thursday afternoon, Howard Wolfson, a top advisor to Bloomberg, said the billionaire "would offer a new choice to Democrats" if he decides to run.

"We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated -- but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well-positioned to do that," Wolfson said.

The advisor also noted Bloomberg's efforts in helping fund Democratic congressional and state legislative campaigns.

Currently, Forbes is placing Bloomberg's net worth at 52 billion U.S. dollars, which means he's one of the world's wealthiest individuals.

If Bloomberg were to formally launch a presidential bid, he would almost certainly be a target for progressive rivals such as Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who have been running populist campaigns advocating that the rich should pay more taxes.

Warren weighed in on Bloomberg's potential presidential bid, tweeting, "welcome to the race."

She also attached a link to her campaign website to her tweet.

"Some billionaires seem confused about how much they would pay under Elizabeth's Ultra-Millionaire Tax. Don't worry, now we have a calculator for that too," read the website.

"The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared," Sanders tweeted, without mentioning Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, who cofounded financial information and media company Bloomberg LP in 1981, was mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, serving three terms.

Bloomberg, who had been a registered Republican and independent, as well as a Democrat, re-registered as a Democrat a month before the party took back the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms.

He has previously flirted with running for president in several election cycles and said earlier this year that he would not seek the White House.

After several rounds of primary debates, the Democratic field remains crowded, with 17 contenders still campaigning.

According to the RealClearPolitics national Democratic primary polling average, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is currently leading at 28.3 percent, followed by Warren and Sanders, with 20.6 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively.

However, in polls of the early nominating states Iowa and New Hampshire, seen as crucial for generating momentum in the race, Biden often trails Warren and Sanders.

David Axelrod, director of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, called Bloomberg's likely entry into the race "a thunderclap."

"And not exactly a vote of confidence from leading moderate in durability" of Biden's campaign, Axelrod tweeted.

According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult survey released on Wednesday, 56 percent of voters expect Trump to be reelected next year, including 85 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents. By comparison, only 35 percent of Democrats say the same.

The poll also found that voter enthusiasm for the 2020 presidential election remains high -- more than 80 percent of the interviewees say they are motivated to turn out and vote, with 69 percent saying they are "very motivated."

In a tweet Thursday night, Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump's reelection campaign, said Bloomberg "can step into the massive void" created by the departure of former U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who ended a presidential campaign a week ago.

O'Rourke made progressive gun control measures a campaign signature but was called out by conservatives, including Trump.

Bloomberg, an active philanthropist, has donated 8 billion dollars to gun control, climate change and other causes, according to Forbes.

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