NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Michael Bloomberg will make his formal debut on the presidential debate stage on Wednesday night amid a lot of speculation about how he will withstand the expected onslaught from his Democratic competitors.
The former New York City mayor’s campaign made the announcement Tuesday morning, saying the latest poll results show him with 19% support nationwide.
That puts him ahead of all other candidates, except Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who leads the poll with 31%.
“Mike is looking forward to joining the other Democratic candidates on stage and making the case for why he’s the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and unite the country,” Bloomberg’s campaign said in a statement. “The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process.”
CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer, who sparred with Mayor Mike for 12 years, says past performance may be an indication of just how well he does.
When Bloomberg takes on Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the big question will be which Mike shows up — Mike the nice, the man who got choked up about becoming a grandpa, or Mike the knife, the man who once had little sympathy for a man with a bad heart who had to dig his car out after a snowstorm to avoid a ticket?
“This was not a lot of snow. It was easy to move your car,” Bloomberg said at the time.
Or the Mike who once attacked a wheelchair-bound reporter whose tape recorder accidentally went off during a press conference.
“This is just too important to get disrupted,” the former mayor said back on Aug. 10, 2009.
Or the Mike who told a reporter whose question he didn’t like, “You are a disgrace.”
But with all the other wannabes gunning for him for not taking donations and for throwing gobs of money into his campaign, Bloomberg might do well to repeat the rationale he trotted out 19 years ago in one of his very first debates, against the late Herman Badillo in the Republican Mayoral Primary.
“People give money because they want access or they want influence. In my case, you don’t have anybody that will have any influence or any access special from anybody else,” Bloomberg said.
And if his bona fides as a Democrat come up? All the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat has to do is repeat what he told Democrat Mark Green in the 2001 general election.
“All it has to do is how you get a chance to serve,” Bloomberg said.
His opponents would do well not to underestimate his ability to answer hard questions and deal with the cringe-worthy, like the daily manure output of a horse.
“There are piles and piles of horse manure left by carriage drivers around Central Park and the streets around it,” Kramer told Bloomberg back in 2011.
“Do you have pictures of it, piles and piles?” Bloomberg responded.
“Yes,” Kramer replied.
“Way to go. I knew you would,” Bloomberg said.
“The drivers admit that 80 pounds,” Kramer said.
“Well, if the drivers admit that, number one, they’re stupid,” Bloomberg said.
He’s also the very same self-made billionaire who, unlike the man who succeeded him, Bill de Blasio, gamely presided over the weigh-in for the annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest and wondered if the reigning champs would win.
“Or if one of their dogged pursuers will finally ketchup, cut the mustard and be pronounced wiener,” Bloomberg said, adding to laughter. “Who wrote this [expletive]?”
Bloomberg has been preparing for this moment for months, with aides playing the part of all the candidates. But it’s good to remember he’s not a neophyte. He’s battle-tested. He jousted with Kramer and members of the New York press corps for a dozen years — and that is certainly a trial by fire.