In Detroit, Bloomberg calls Trump a ‘destroyer’ who ‘divides’ people 

Mike Bloomberg in Detroit | Ken Coleman

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg visited Detroit on Saturday and opened his first Michigan field office for his 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.

“What we really need is somebody who pull this country together. … Trump is not a unifier. He’s a destroyer who divides people.” Bloomberg said emphatically to a group of about 200 people. 

Brenda Lawrence | Andrew Roth

In attendance were U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, as well as members of the Detroit City Council. Mayor Mike Duggan, who already endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, did not attend. Lawrence previously endorsed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who has dropped out of the race, and Evans hasn’t made a Democratic Party primary candidate decision. 

Prior to the office opening in Eastern Market, Bloomberg visited small businesses along Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion on the city’s largely middle-class Northwest side. 

A former New York mayor and owner of Bloomberg News, Bloomberg launched a $100 million national advertising campaign in November designed to attack President Donald Trump in battleground states, according to his spokesman. The ads initially appeared in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona. The spending will continue throughout the primary season. 

President Donald Trump rally in Battle Creek, Dec. 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Trump narrowly won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by roughly 70,000 votes combined. His Michigan win was by 10,704 votes. He was on the west side of the state in Battle Creek on Wednesday, the day he was impeached by the U.S. House.

On the question of his controversial stop-and-frisk policing policy as mayor, Bloomberg told the Advance just after his formal remarks that he didn’t believe that the policy would hurt his presidential chances, even though some believe it disproportionately affected people of color. 

“No, I think not,” Bloomberg said. “We brought the crime rate down. We cut the murders from 600 down to 300 kids. It [Stop-and-frisk] went too far. I apologized. Nothing else that I can do about it. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.” 

Bloomberg, who formally kicked off his campaign on Nov. 25, served as mayor from 2002 to 2013.  U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), another presidential hopeful, opened a campaign office in Southwest Detroit earlier this month.

Bloomberg 2020 campaign office in Detroit | Ken Coleman

The Democratic presidential primary election will be held on March 10. Michigan will the 18th state to hold a Democratic Party presidential contest and will be held on the same day as Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington state. 

The Bloomberg campaign announced on Saturday its field operation in more than 20 states across the country. Earlier this week, the Bloomberg team announced that it has more than 170 staff in states.

“As he did at his company and in government, Mike Bloomberg excels at bringing together the best teams to challenge convention and innovate,” said Campaign Manager Kevin Sheekey. “The impressive team we’ve built across the country will help us connect with voters and make Mike’s case against President Trump everywhere.”

Michael Kurtz is serving as Michigan state director. Jamaine Dickens, a seasoned Democratic operative who hails from Detroit, is serving a senior advisor. 

This week, Bloomberg announced his plan to address the opioid epidemic. Earlier this year, his charity gave Michigan $10 million to fight opioid deaths and he appeared with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Southeast Michigan.

Michigan awarded $10M from Bloomberg charity to fight opioid overdose deaths

Bloomberg’s opioid plan, which was unveiled in Ohio, will expand access to treatment, develop national standards for states to gather data on opioid use and overdoses, and require insurers to remove obstacles to covering medications for opioid use disorder. 

Bloomberg also released his health care plan during a speech in Tennessee. It would allow people to buy a Medicare-like health insurance policy, administered by the federal government but paid for by customer premiums. Bloomberg claims it would increase the number of people who are covered by providing a less expensive option.

The Detroit office announcement was not missed by the GOP. 

“Michael Bloomberg believes he can buy his way into Michigan and push the same radical policy ideas that plagued New York City during his tenure as mayor,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Ellie Hockenbury. “Bloomberg was not good for New York and will certainly will not look out for the best interest of Michiganders.”

Rufus Bartell and Dorian Evans both attended Bloomberg Detroit events but haven’t decided on a candidate at this time. 

Rufus Bartell and Mike Bloomberg | Ken Coleman

Evans hoped that Bloomberg would have run in 2016. The Detroit educator had been supporting Harris before she withdrew from the race. 

“So, clearly I am re-vetting,” Evans said. “I think that he has made a lot of good changes as mayor of New York in a progressive manner. He has apologized that he sees now. Some of his policies toward education weren’t forward thinking but I think that he does have a broad appeal to many people.”

Bartell owns Simply Casual, a clothing store on the Avenue of Fashion. He had about 15 minutes to talk with Bloomfield during a private session with several business owners just prior to the campaign office kickoff.

“I believe in talking to everybody,” Bartell said about the Democratic campaign. “And in talking to everybody, that’s where you see where we are.” 

Disclosure: Jamaine Dickens has worked at the same public affairs firm as Ken Coleman’s spouse, Kim Trent.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.