It’s Wednesday and Michael Bloomberg is on a farm in Minnesota. Nobody, including him, knows why.
Minnesota in the winter is a long way from Bloomberg’s Bermuda estate where he spent much of his time as mayor of New York City, and, if he were to win in 2020, would spend his presidential term. While fighting a war on coal, the billionaire environmentalist crusader liked to jet over on Fridays to his waterfront estate in Bermuda to escape the New York City winters and then jet back again on Sundays.
“We should understand how big America is,” Michael Bloomberg told a reporter. “I’m here to learn about another part of the country.”
Any part of the country that isn’t New York City is a whole other world to the big city titan. That might be why he stumbled into Martin County which Trump had won by 67.5%. Even by primary standards, there aren’t many Democrats here. Hillary only got 2,733 votes. Campaigning for Somali votes in Hennepin County would have made more sense. But as far as Bloomberg is concerned, any place outside Manhattan is farm country. And that goes double for Minnesota.
So here he was riding a tractor on a farm in the greatest presidential campaign vehicular moment since a tank ended the Dukakis dream.
“We eat and live based on what you do,” he told a soybean farm family. “And I think it’s easy for us living in big cities to forget about the rest of the world.”
Bloomberg didn’t need to travel all the way to Minnesota to meet farmers. There are plenty of them in upstate New York. But the billionaire, having just recently discovered the existence of both Minnesota and farmers, was eager to impress the media with his common touch. And be photographed in the general vicinity of farm equipment while remaining completely clueless about farm country.
Later in Akron, he would tell an audience, “I just came from a farm, a soybean farm, in the coldest place — you have no idea how cold it is out there.” It was 9 degrees. In other words, winter.
His pitch to farm country was more unions, a $15 minimum wage, and community college. It’s the same as his New York City pitch. And he’s already spent almost $2 million on ads selling himself to Minnesotans. That’s been followed by awkward campaign stops in which he tries to relate to people who don’t work for him. It’s a skill that Bloomberg, who is better at buying elections than winning them, has yet to master.The politicians who endorse him walk behind him, deferentially trailing the billionaire munchkin as he strides toward the photographers or his private jets, like the hired help that they are.
And the private jets are there waiting to take him away from the scary world outside New York.
His mid Western campaign stops begin and end in New York City. Bloomberg may occasionally jet to the “rest of the world”, but then he gets back into his private jet and returns home to New York for bedtime.
The planet, according to him, may be on the verge of an environmental catastrophe, but the end of all life on earth is no reason to have to spend a night on a lumpy mattress in a Minnesota Marriot.
The “Get It Done Express” bus with the Bloomberg 2020 logo is misleading. The only thing that bus is getting done is diverting attention from how many polar bears each Bloomberg plane trip kills.
The death of the planet is a small price to pay for being able to sleep in his Gilded Age townhouse on 79th Street. Coal miners may be driven out of work and into the streets, but Bloomberg must be able to recline on his $1 million Georgian Chippendale couch, play with his antique snooker table, and enjoy his foyer paved with rare Egyptian marble even if the oceans rise, the seas sink, and all the polar bears perish.
“Too much wealth is in too few hands, and it’s concentrated in too few places,” Bloomberg told farm country, seemingly deaf to the fact that some $58 billion of it is concentrated in his hands.
The billionaire says things like this because someone told him it was a good idea. Just like somebody told him that he should ride a tractor. Or get Judge Judy to campaign for him. Or visit Akron.
In Akron, he told an audience of a few hundred people that they needed more immigrants.
“We want to build on things. We want to build on things that already exist,” he said robotically, like a space alien trying to communicate with earthmen.
Then he vowed to take away everyone’s guns.
Bloomberg’s nationwide campaign is built on blowing a fortune on ads accompanied by inept pandering. A black marching band introduced him in Atlanta. He had dinner with Katy Perry at a Beverly Hills restaurant. In Illinois, he brought in disgraced Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to tout job training for all the people who would be put out of work by his radical environmentalist agenda.
Bringing in an Obama hack widely despised on both sides of the political aisle, whose most recent political activism consisted of urging parents to keep kids out of school until gun control laws are passed, was another brilliant move by a campaign that was thrown together on a billionaire’s last-minute whim.
Bloomberg showed up in Texas vowing to bring in more immigrants and refugees. “America is not New York, I understand that,” he told Texans. And then laid out a plan for making Texas into New York.
Just to make himself feel more at home, he brought along grating New York City television personality, Judge Judy. The reality television star has six homes from which she has been known to commute by private jet, but none of them are in Texas.Why Judge Judy? All the other celebrities were already taken.
Behind the awkward photo ops in places he’s never been to before, like farms, diners, and the state of Minnesota, is the same old campaign he ran in New York City with the same old nanny state tics.
“You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place,” he told Alabamans.
It doesn’t occur to him that people in Alabama might be less likely to agree with that than New Yorkers.
Bloomberg is ready to blow $1 billion on a nationwide campaign in places he’s never been to and making a play for the hearts and minds of voters that he’s unable to understand or relate to. While his campaign spends a fortune on ads and staff, its message is the same one that he ran on in New York City. It’s a sales pitch of free stuff, more unions, a war on coal, gun bans, and nanny state politics.
And for voters who like that sort of thing, there are better 2020 candidates serving it up.
Riding a tractor and spending a billion won’t change that.
Even Bloomberg doesn’t seem especially convinced by his own candidacy despite all the cash he’s spending to finance it.
In Chicago, a woman told him, “We need somebody like you.”
“If you say so,” he answered.