Hundreds of San Antonians packed Hangar 9 at Brooks on Sunday night as Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg continued his rapid-fire tour of several states ahead of the Super Tuesday primary elections.
The former New York City mayor opened the rally with local references to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and Fiesta – but quickly turned to another bedrock of Military City USA’s culture.
“As commander in chief, I promise to never put our fighting men and women in harm’s way unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Bloomberg said to the cheering crowd. “[As president] I will ensure that our veterans have the resources and support they need to succeed in and out of uniform.”
Further establishing his local credentials, he said, is the endorsement of beloved former San Antonio Spur Tim Duncan. In January, Bloomberg launched his nationwide bus tour in San Antonio.
Tuesday will be the first time Democratic voters will see Bloomberg’s name on the ballot, as he chose to skip the first four primary elections and caucuses. Voters in 15 states and territories will cast their votes on Tuesday – representing more than a third of the total pledged delegates.
Bloomberg is betting big on Super Tuesday to prove the legitimacy of his campaign, on which he nearly has spent an unprecedented half-billion dollars of his own money.
“In two days Texans will go to the polls and whoever wins on Super Tuesday will likely be the one who represents us in the upcoming election,” said State Rep. Leo Pacheco, a Democrat who represents District 118. “Whoever that nominee is, we’re going to fight for them tooth and nail – but I want people to know that I … voted in the early vote for Mike Bloomberg.”
Bloomberg entered the race later in the primary season after deciding none of the other candidates could beat Republican President Donald Trump in the general election.
“I will get it done,” Bloomberg said. “If [someone] asks you what my campaign is all about – just tell them this: I am running to defeat Donald Trump.”
Compared to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and most other candidates on the ballot, Bloomberg represents a more moderate choice among the field of candidates – someone who may be able to appeal to moderate conservatives.
That Democratic field shrank to six over the weekend as former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer dropped out after disappointing performances in the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Former Vice President Joe Biden received 48 percent of the votes there while Sanders received nearly 20 percent. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusets) finished fifth with just over 7 percent – behind Steyer and Buttigieg.
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Warren has called Bloomberg the “most dangerous” candidate in the field, as he has previously supported Republican campaigns.
Bloomberg touts his support of Democrats in recent elections that helped turn the U.S. House blue.
“[It’s time to] put ‘united’ back into the United States of America,” he said.
While his wealth has been criticized by Sanders, some Democrats find Bloomberg’s fortunes and business acumen appealing.
“He has a lot of experience with the public and he did such a good job in New York, so I think he’ll do a good job for America,” said local artist Carlton Van Gilder, who attended the rally. “Trump is a businessman but he’s not president material at all. Bloomberg, on the other hand, is a people person as well as [a] businessman.”
Concerns and protests from many black voters regarding his implementation of racist “stop and frisk” policy within the New York Police Department while he was mayor don’t impact Gilder’s opinion of Bloomberg.
“Sometimes you have to clean house and that’s what he was doing,” said Gilder, a black Democratic voter. “There’s no discrimination in cleaning house.”
If Bloomberg dropped out of the race, Gilder said he would choose Sanders over Biden.
“[Biden] is not progressive enough – he’s not aggressive enough either,” he said. “We need someone who can really out-do Trump’s aggression.”