Mike Bloomberg seemingly suggested behind closed doors at an event with Silicon Valley elite on Thursday that former Vice President Joe Biden could be a “lame duck” president if elected, implying that the former New York mayor is the better moderate 77-year-old to support.
Toward the end of his 10-minute pitch to about 200 tech executives, investors, and socialites, Bloomberg, looking at notes, offered the contrast without naming Biden explicitly, according to video posted to social media and seen by Recode.
“My message to you is if you want somebody who’s experienced, and strong enough to serve two terms and not give the gift of being a lame-duck president to the Republicans,” Bloomberg said, before listing off a series of policy commitments, “then welcome to Bloomberg 2020 and I’d love to have your support.”
Biden is the only candidate who has been the subject of credible reporting that he could pledge to serve a single term, an accusation the Biden campaign has forcefully denied.
Nevertheless, the speculation could prove fruitful fodder for Bloomberg, who is competing with Biden for some of the same elite support and moderate voters.
A campaign spokesperson noted that Bloomberg has pledged to support the Democratic nominee no matter what.
It is a sensitive point of attack for Biden. Politico first reported in December that Biden’s campaign had considered publicly stating — or at least privately signaling — that he would only serve one term if elected, seen as a strategy to stave off nagging concerns about his age and whether he is as sharp as he used to be. Biden’s team has strongly disputed that a one-term pledge was ever under consideration
But it has nevertheless continued to dog him, including being asked about it in an interview published Friday with the New York Times editorial board.
“I never hinted that. That is simply not true,” he told the paper. “I don’t know where it came from, but it did not — it came from somebody who in fact, I guess, thinks that they know me and thinks that maybe, I don’t know.”
Biden’s campaign declined to comment.
Bloomberg and Biden are the same age: 77. Another candidate who has drawn concern about his health, age, and ability to do the job, Bernie Sanders, recently suffered a heart attack. Elizabeth Warren is 70, but there has not been serious reporting or speculation about Sanders or Warren making a similar one-term commitment.
Bloomberg’s line was interpreted as a comment about Biden, according to people in the room.
While Biden has not shown strength with Silicon Valley leaders, he does represent a clear threat to Bloomberg’s path to victory. Bloomberg only entered the race at a time when Biden seemed to have a declining grip on moderate voters and Democratic elites. But Biden has proved durable.
Bloomberg’s team has indicated to Democrats that he might reorient his campaign to a more general anti-Trump organization if Biden proves to be on the path to victory following Super Tuesday, when California votes, according to the New York Times. And so it makes sense for Bloomberg to look for the opportunities to draw a contrast with Biden.
The former New York City mayor made the comment at the conclusion of a “private briefing” for many leaders from the tech industry. Attendees included people like San Francisco powerbroker Ron Conway, so-called “Queen of the Internet” Mary Meeker, and a host of other Bloomberg-curious Silicon Valley titans.
Bloomberg allies think his data-driven, subdued brand of politics will resonate among leaders in the tech community.
“I think we need less talk and less partisanship. In fact, I think we need less tweeting,” he told the crowd at one point. “I make you this commitment right now: When I’m in the Oval Office, there will not be any tweeting.”
What Bloomberg is not seeking is campaign contributions from them — something that Biden, who has made multiple trips to Silicon Valley, very much is. Bloomberg is self-financing his race and asked the donors there to consider giving to the Democratic National Committee and outside groups — while still pledging to support him in the primary.
“I can imagine I’m the only politician in history who’s been in a room with all of you and not asked for donations,” he told the crowd.