Billionaire’s cash infusion aimed at boosting early voting
Mike Bloomberg will spend $100m to help Biden beat Trump in Florida
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The former New York mayor and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Mike Bloomberg will spend at least $100m to support Joe Biden in Florida, in an attempt to counter any infusion of personal cash by Donald Trump and to seek a decisive victory in early voting.
Bloomberg, a media billionaire reported to have 17 times as much money as Trump, is reckoned to have spent around $1bn on his failed bid for the Democratic nomination. Such spending did however appear to get under Trump’s skin.
News of Bloomberg’s intervention in Florida prompted a characteristic response from the president, who was campaigning in Nevada.
“I thought Mini Mike was through with Democrat politics after spending almost $2bn,” Trump tweeted, with a familiar insult aimed at Bloomberg’s height.
He also used a racist nickname for the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who famously attacked Bloomberg on the debate stage, and advised the former mayor to “save New York City instead”.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Bloomberg adviser Kevin Sheekey said: “Voting starts on 24 September in Florida so the need to inject real capital in that state quickly is an urgent need. Mike believes that by investing in Florida it will allow campaign resources and other Democratic resources to be used in other states, in particular Pennsylvania.”
Trump has been out-raised by Joe Biden, amid reports of cutbacks which the president has called fake news.
Earlier this week, before a rally in North Carolina, another swing state, Trump told reporters he might spend his own money on his campaign.
“If I have to, I will,” he said. “Whatever it takes, we have to win.”
Florida offers 29 electoral college votes, vital in a close race. No Republican has won the White House without it since 1924. Infamously, George W Bush, the last two-term Republican president, won Florida against Al Gore in 2000 after multiple recounts and with the intervention of the US supreme court.
In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Florida by 1.2%. The state is close again, polling averages putting Biden ahead but not by much more.
Bloomberg is aiming to encourage early voting, to counter Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that such voting is vulnerable to fraud and fears that the president may use any uncertainty over the result on election day to attempt to hold on to power.
Hawkfish, a technology firm funded by Bloomberg, caused a splash earlier this month when it detailed what it called a “red mirage”, meaning an apparent win for Trump on election day that would disappear when all votes were counted, after delays likely to be exacerbated by coronavirus precautions.
“We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump,” Hawkfish chief executive Josh Mendelsohn told Axios on HBO.
“When every legitimate vote is tallied and we get to that final day, which will be some day after election day, it will in fact show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage. It looked like Donald Trump was in the lead and he fundamentally was not when every ballot gets counted.”
On Sunday Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson told the Post heavy early voting for Biden in Florida “would give lie to what we expect to be Trump’s election night messaging that Democrats are stealing the election, because unlike other battleground states, Florida counts its absentee ballots on or by election day. We think Florida is incredibly close but winnable.”
Bloomberg, a former Republican and independent, endorsed Biden and spoke at the Democratic convention. He has also used his money to back groups including Everytown for Gun Safety, Fair Fight and Swing Left.
In May, Abe Rakov, a veteran Democratic operative, told the former mayor “was one of the biggest contributors to Democratic causes before he ran and he still is after. There are a lot of organisations and programs across the country that would be in really bad shape if he decided to disengage after he ran.”
The Post reported that an unnamed Democratic consultant said large sums would be needed for effective advertising in Florida, where such buys are expensive.
“The bottom line is when you have additional resources, you can solidify your voters and then communicate with those who are still on the fence for some reason,” Florida representative Val Demings said.
“One hundred million can do just that.”
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling associates he had no idea his Justice Department seized phone records of two top Democratic congressional critics of then-President Donald Trump. In the hours since The New York Times broke the news on Thursday that prosecutors subpoenaed Apple metadata from Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), former Attorney General Sessions has privately told people that he wasn’t aware of, nor was he briefed on, the reported data seizures while he led the Trump DOJ. This week’s revelations were a surprise to him, according to a source familiar with the matter, and another person close to Sessions.
The US justice department’s internal watchdog launched an investigation on Friday after revelations that former president Donald Trump’s administration secretly seized phone data from at least two House Democrats as part of an aggressive leaks inquiry related to the Russia investigation into Trump’s conduct.
Donald Trump called Joe Biden a “mental retard” during the 2020 election, a new book says, but was reluctant to attack him too strongly for fear the Democrats would replace him with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. Biden went on to beat Trump by more than 7m in the popular vote and by 306-232 in the electoral college, a result Trump deemed a landslide when it was in his favor against Clinton in 2016.
The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol was “planned in plain sight” but intelligence failures left police officers exposed to a violent mob of Trump supporters, a Senate investigation has found. The Capitol police intelligence division had been gathering online data since December about plots to storm the building on 6 January, including messages such as: “Bring guns. It’s now or never.” But a combination of bad communications, poor planning, faulty equipment and lack of leadership meant the warnings went unheeded, allowing the insurrectionists to overrun the Capitol and disrupt certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Five people died.