On the heels of a lackluster showing in the Super Tuesday primaries, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg has ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and given his endorsement to former Vice President Joe Biden.
Bloomberg’s decision comes after the billionaire spent an astounding $500 million on TV ads in an effort to overcome a late start in the race and his lack of standing in the Democratic Party. But Bloomberg failed to reach the 15% vote threshold needed to command delegates in most of Super Tuesday’s 14 primaries. Bloomberg did prevail in the territory of American Samoa, which also voted on Tuesday.
In bowing out, Bloomberg emphasized that his overriding goal was to defeat President Donald Trump, the polarizing Republican who has upended the political establishment since he shocked the nation with his victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Three months ago, I entered the race to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I’m leaving for the same reason. Defeating Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. It’s clear that is my friend and a great American, @JoeBiden,” Bloomberg wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.
On Tuesday night, Bloomberg addressed a crowd of supporters in West Palm Beach, Fla., telling them he was focused on winning the state and giving other indications that his campaign would continue. But by Wednesday morning, the tone had changed.
“I’m immensely proud of the campaign we ran. I’m deeply grateful to all the Americans who voted for me, and to our dedicated staff and volunteers,” Bloomberg wrote in a tweet. “I want you to stay engaged, active, and committed to our issues. I will be right there with you. And together, we will get it done.”
Trump was quick to take a poke at Bloomberg and Biden, who has had a remarkable reversal of fortunes and has elbowed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) out of the lead in the delegate race for the Democratic nod. Bloomberg had a rapid response at the ready that invoked “Star Wars” imagery.
“Mini Mike Bloomberg just “quit” the race for President,” Trump wrote via Twitter. “I could have told him long ago that he didn’t have what it takes, and he would have saved himself a billion dollars, the real cost. Now he will pour money into Sleepy Joe’s campaign, hoping to save face. It won’t work!”
Bloomberg’s response indicated he aims to still wield some influence in the general election campaign. “See you soon, Donald,” Bloomberg wrote in a tweet that included a clip of “Star Wars” hero Obi Wan Kenobi battling Darth Vader with light sabers.
Bloomberg News, which had suspended “investigative” coverage of the Democratic field following Bloomberg’s entry into the race in November, will resume normal operations, according to a memo from John Micklethwait, the editor in chief.
“Now that Mike has said he is leaving the race for President, we will return to our normal coverage of the election; we will follow exactly the same coverage rules for the Democratic presidential candidates,” he said.
The news outlet’s decision not to investigate Bloomberg or his Democratic rivals was controversial, in part because the outlet did not extend the same policy to President Trump.