That other New York billionaire businessman and politician, the less brash and inflammatory one – former city mayor Michael Bloomberg – took on Donald Trump in the vital primary election state of New Hampshire on Tuesday as he tests the waters for a 2020 presidential bid.
The topics he chose to zero in on were the president’s business record and climate change, which many candidates running against Trump will probably make a key issue in the next race for the White House.
Bloomberg ripped Trump for saying he did not believe his own administration’s report warning of the dire consequences of climate change.
“He failed at business, and now I think it’s fair to say he is failing at government,” Bloomberg said in a speech at Saint Anselm College.
“His own administration produced a damaging report showing that we have what they called substantial damage to the US economy, environment and human health from climate change. And you know what the president said in response? ‘I don’t believe it,’ he said. How can you not believe it?” Bloomberg said.
“I hate to break this to you, Mr President, but if you don’t believe in science, don’t go to the doctor, don’t get on an airplane, don’t talk on the phone, and don’t even think about tweeting.”
Bloomberg who served 12 years as New York mayor and has at various points identified as a Democrat, Republican and independent, is considering a 2020 run in the Democratic primary.
On his swing through New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first primary, Bloomberg said the ravages of climate change are already clear, from wildfires and hurricanes to ticks that are killing 70% of baby moose in New Hampshire and Maine because warmer weather is allowing them to live through the winter.
“What’s happening is really scary, and it may be irreversible. I hope not,” he said. “What we need is a president that can lead us forward, instead of trying to drag us backwards.”
Bloomberg said a “Green New Deal”, embraced by many progressives, should include economic development and job training for coalmining regions and other areas whose economies are dependent on fossil fuels, criticizing the Trump administration for trying to cut funding for job training in coalmining regions.
“The hypocrisy of what the president said and then what the president’s trying to do is just staggering. The president likes to give rallies and speeches where he makes promises to miners about bringing their jobs back, but I think it’s clear to everybody at this point – even the coalminers – those are just empty words,” Bloomberg said.
Now presenting as a newly minted Democrat, Bloomberg also took shots at Trump over the government shutdown.
“It’s an example of just how totally incompetent management can needlessly hurt millions of people,” he said.
Asked by an audience member whether he had embraced veganism to help the environment, the mayor, known for his public health crusades, confessed an occasional steak was the least of his vices.
“I’m addicted to Cheez-Its and popcorn. And if you can get rid of all the other bad things but just don’t get rid of those two, I’d be very happy. I’m also addicted to Subway sandwiches and could eat one every night for dinner,” he said, adding that he had cut down on red meat but still enjoyed a burger and eats steak “very seldom, but if served it I would eat it”.