clearn.png
Wednesday June 3rd, 2020 12:47AM

Inside Mike Bloomberg's big play for black voters

By The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A meeting with nearly 80 black pastors in Detroit. A speech before a black Democratic organization in Montgomery. A rally at a historically black university. A tour of Martin Luther King Jr.'s church. An early voting kickoff at an African American museum. All in the past two weeks.

While Michael Bloomberg's rivals battled it out in majority-white Iowa and New Hampshire, the billionaire presidential candidate aggressively courted the black voters critical to any Democrat's chance of winning the nomination. The effort, backed by millions of dollars in ads, has taken him across Southern states that vote on March 3, from Montgomery, Alabama, this week in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, states where African American voters can decide a Democratic primary.

His pitch is one of electability and competence — hoping to capitalize on black Democrats' hunger to oust President Donald Trump. But as he courts black voters he'll also have to reconcile his own record as mayor of New York and past remarks on criminal justice.

Bloomberg's outreach aims squarely at former Vice President Joe Biden, who is banking on loyal black voters to resuscitate his bid after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Who can beat Donald Trump? That's what people care about,” said former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who is among the black leaders endorsing Bloomberg. Nutter says Bloomberg's record of accomplishments outweighs the damage of flawed policing.

Bloomberg has no doubt been helped by his limitless financial resources and his strategy to focus on states conducting primaries on Super Tuesday. One of the world's richest men thanks to a net worth of roughly $60 billion, Bloomberg has spent more than $300 million of his own money on advertising, including spots on black radio stations, a Super Bowl ad that featured an African American mother who lost her son to gun violence and a national ad touting his work with President Barack Obama on gun legislation and a teen jobs program.

He's also racked up endorsements from African American mayors and held events with key figures in the black community, including a meeting with black pastors in Detroit and a speech at an Alabama Democratic luncheon. Much of the outreach has been aimed at middle-age and older voters, who turn out more reliably, and appeals to a sense of pragmatism. Bloomberg may not be the candidate you know best, the campaign argues, but he's the best poised to beat Trump. On Wednesday, Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath endorsed him, citing his record on gun violence prevention. McBath ran for Congress in 2018 after her teenage son was shot to death in a car over a dispute about loud music. She was the first Democrat elected to her seat since 1979.

A new poll shows signs of success for Bloomberg, whose support has been hovering around 1 in 10 Democratic voters in most national polls. The Quinnipiac University poll, which was conducted after the Iowa caucuses but before New Hampshire's primary, found Bloomberg with 15% support nationally, up from 8% in a late-January poll. That put him about even with Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and slightly ahead of Pete Buttigieg, who essentially tied with Sanders in last week's Iowa caucuses. The poll showed Sanders leading, with 25% nationally.

During a recent rally at historically black Alabama State University, Bloomberg drew several hundred people, who chanted “I like Mike!” and prompted a dry response from the understated candidate.

“Better they do that than they don't do that,” he said.

Louretta Wimberly, a retired educator from Selma, Alabama, watched the rally and reconsidered her support for Biden. She's felt a longtime connection with the former vice president, but she likes what's she's hearing from Bloomberg.

“I've been following him because he is speaking to the things that we black women in Selma and in the Black Belt want — public education, health care and infrastructure,” Wimberly said.

Voters like Wimberly don't often raise Bloomberg's record in New York, but his critics do. For them, his criminal justice policies there — specifically his embrace of a practice known as “stop-and-frisk” that disproportionately affected people of color — remain a mark on his civil rights record that cannot be erased by his recent apologies. The issue flared up again this week when comments he made in a 2015 Aspen Institute speech resurfaced. In the audio, Bloomberg says the way to bring down murder rates is to "put a lot of cops" in minority neighborhoods because that's where "all the crime is."

Bloomberg apologized for supporting the practice just days before he launched his 2020 bid in November, and repeated that apology on Tuesday, saying the remarks “do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity." But the timing of his apologies strikes some as political expediency.

“He should have done it when it mattered. Now he just looks like someone who's willing to say anything to get elected president,” said Hawk Newsome, president of Black Lives Matter New York, who said younger black voters in particular will not be willing to give Bloomberg a pass on his record on policing. “What he's selling we already bought, paid for and returned.”

The prominent activist Rev. Al Sharpton, who fought with the mayor over stop-and-frisk, said Tuesday he told Bloomberg in a phone call moments after his November apology that “it's going to take more than one speech, but it's a step in the right direction.”

Sharpton said Bloomberg had “an upside and a downside” as mayor but that his biggest strength as a presidential candidate is his argument that he's the best one to take on Trump. That's especially true if Biden — his pitch to black Americans has been that he's most electable in November — continues to slip, leaving voters thinking Bloomberg "may have a better shot” in November, Sharpton said.

But Bloomberg also is viewed skeptically by some younger and progressive voters weary of putting another rich man in the White House. And it's far from clear that his cool, business-like approach to campaigning will connect with voters.

A tour guide at King's church asked the people gathered around them to join in song. While others followed her lead, singing and clapping to “This Little Light of Mine," Bloomberg simply ignored the request and carried on with introducing himself to people and shaking their hands, until the singing stopped.

On the stump, Bloomberg appeals more to the pragmatism of voters who want to beat Trump and get things done.

James May, the former mayor of Uniontown, Alabama, said before a Bloomberg speech at a Democratic Party leader luncheon that Bloomberg's accomplishments as mayor were enough to earn his support. "If he does that when he becomes president, he's my kind of guy,” May said. As for Biden? “He's good, too, but not quite good enough.”

Bloomberg has so far been shut out of debates, allowing him to largely avoid tough public questioning of his record. That could change next week when Democrats hold their next debate. Bloomberg needs to meet a polling threshold in two more polls to make the stage for the first time.

Maurice Hawkins, an Air Force veteran from Virginia Beach, Virginia, plans to vote for Biden on Super Tuesday, but he said Bloomberg's history with stop-and-frisk wouldn't stop him from supporting the former mayor.

Hawkins said Democratic voters can be too rigid about a candidate's history, particularly on issues where the country has evolved, such as criminal justice. Biden has had to answer for his own record, including helping craft the 1994 crime bill, which critics blame for the mass incarceration of minorities over two decades. Biden has proposed a plan that would reverse parts of that bill.

Hawkins, who is black, said he attended a Bloomberg speech in Norfolk, Virginia, last week because he's considering backing Bloomberg if Biden isn't in the race when Virginia votes.

“I wanted to hear what he has to say," Hawkins said, "because I think because we're in a really turbulent primary, we don't know who's gonna come out of it.”

___

Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Benn scores 2 goals, gets 3 as Stars beat Hurricanes 4-1
Jamie Benn got his sixth career hat trick _ despite putting only two pucks in the net _ and the Dallas Stars beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1
1:26AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Harden, Westbrook help Rockets beat Celtics 116-105
James Harden scored 42 points, Russell Westbrook had 36 and the Houston Rockets snapped Boston's seven-game win streak with a 116-105 victory over the Celtics
1:26AM ( 16 minutes ago )
NCAA's Emmert presses Senate for 'guardrails' on athlete pay
NCAA President Mark Emmert is urging Congress to step in and put restrictions on college athletes' ability to earn money from endorsements
1:13AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Top Nevada union warns about Sanders, Warren
Nevada's most influential union is sending a warning over the heath care stances of the two most progressive Democratic contenders, including the current front-runner in the primary race
12:18AM ( 1 hour ago )
Klobuchar surged in New Hampshire. Can she make it count?
Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar is hoping her strong third-place finish in New Hampshire will provide enough momentum to be competitive in Nevada and the states that come next in the nominating contest
12:10AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP VoteCast: NH Democrats angry, seek alternative to Trump
Democratic voters in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary are angry at President Donald Trump's administration and eager to pick the candidate most likely to oust him from office
12:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Trump wins GOP primary, Weld nabs 9% of vote
President Donald Trump overwhelmingly won New Hampshire’s GOP primary, but more than 12,000 votes went to a long-shot challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld
12:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Sanders leading Buttigieg in NH, Klobuchar 3rd
Bernie Sanders is holding a narrow lead over Pete Buttigieg in early returns in the New Hampshire Democratic primary
10:46PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Klobuchar says she has redefined the word 'grit'
Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar says she has redefined the word “grit” and beaten the odds once again in New Hampshire
10:18PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Polls begin closing for New Hampshire primary
Polls have begun closing in New Hampshire for the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary
7:00PM ( 6 hours ago )
Klobuchar faces tough questioning in case of juvenile lifer
As voters made their way to the New Hampshire polls, Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar faced pointed questions about her oversight of a high-profile murder case in which a black teen was sentenced to life after a flawed police investigation
6:17PM ( 7 hours ago )
Dems look for New Hampshire results to clarify muddled race
Bernie Sanders is fighting for Democratic front-runner status as New Hampshire primary voters stream to the polls
6:02PM ( 7 hours ago )
General Election News
Steyer's wife moves to S. Carolina for rest of 2020 campaign
The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has stepped down from her banking job and relocated to South Carolina for the duration of her husband's campaign
6:15PM ( 7 hours ago )
How the Iowa caucuses 'broke down in every way possible'
Democratic Party leaders and activists are describing widespread missteps in planning and implementation that made the Iowa caucuses a historic disaster
2:59PM ( 10 hours ago )
In 2015 audio, Bloomberg advocates targeting minorities
Michael Bloomberg is under fire for resurfaced comments in which he says the way to bring down murder rates is to "put a lot of cops" in minority neighborhoods because that's where "all the crime is
2:11PM ( 11 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
Trump campaigns as a 2nd Amendment warrior
President Donald Trump is fully embracing the mantle of gun rights champion as he makes his pitch for reelection
6:16AM ( 19 hours ago )
Trump campaigns as 2nd Amendment warrior
President Donald Trump is fully embracing the mantle of gun rights champion as he makes his pitch for reelection
12:36AM ( 1 day ago )
US counterintel strategy emphasizes protection of democracy
The U.S. government's top counterintelligence official says he's concerned that Russia or other foreign adversaries could exploit the chaos of the Iowa caucuses to sow distrust in the integrity of America's elections
10:39PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
4 lawyers quit case after DOJ decision on Stone prison time
Four lawyers who prosecuted Roger Stone have quit the case after the Justice Department said it would take the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it would seek for President Donald Trump's longtime ally and confidant
5:59PM ( 7 hours ago )
3 lawyers quit case after DOJ decision on Stone prison time
The Justice Department is taking the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it will seek for Roger Stone
5:33PM ( 8 hours ago )
Feds seek 7 to 9 years in prison for Trump ally Roger Stone
Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence President Donald Trump's confidant Roger Stone to serve between seven and nine years in prison after his conviction on witness tampering and obstruction charges
7:14AM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
White supremacist propaganda spreading, anti-bias group says
Cases of white supremacist propaganda distribution is spiking, the Anti-Defamation League says in a new report
1:38AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Benn scores 2 goals, gets 3 as Stars beat Hurricanes 4-1
Jamie Benn got his sixth career hat trick _ despite putting only two pucks in the net _ and the Dallas Stars beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1
1:26AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Harden, Westbrook help Rockets beat Celtics 116-105
James Harden scored 42 points, Russell Westbrook had 36 and the Houston Rockets snapped Boston's seven-game win streak with a 116-105 victory over the Celtics
1:26AM ( 16 minutes ago )
NCAA's Emmert presses Senate for 'guardrails' on athlete pay
NCAA President Mark Emmert is urging Congress to step in and put restrictions on college athletes' ability to earn money from endorsements
1:13AM ( 29 minutes ago )
CDC cites label error in mixup involving coronavirus patient
Officials say a labeling error caused a person infected with the novel coronavirus to be mistakenly released from a hospital but the oversight was noticed as she was returning to a San Diego military base
1:06AM ( 36 minutes ago )