SCARBOROUGH — Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg brought his Democratic presidential campaign to Maine on Monday as part of the billionaire’s unconventional strategy of targeting Super Tuesday states rather than the first four battleground states.

Janet Edmunson of South Portland listens to Mike Bloomberg speak with her group after his speech at his new Maine field office in Scarborough on Monday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Bloomberg has been advertising in Maine for weeks, and on Monday he made his first in-person pitch to Democratic voters on topics from health care reform and climate change to the opioid crisis. With swings through Maine and Vermont earlier Monday, Bloomberg has notched visits in all 14 states with voting in the March 3 “Super Tuesday” primaries.

“I’ve been traveling all over America, running hard to be the Democratic nominee,” Bloomberg told 200-plus people packed into his new campaign offices in Scarborough. “And while the other Democrats attack each other, I am focusing on trying to make a case against Donald Trump because we’ve just got to beat him.”

Bloomberg began his Maine visit like many other political candidates before him: with a stop at Becky’s Diner in Portland. After greeting a few tables of patrons as television cameras rolled, Bloomberg talked briefly with former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci and Portland Mayor Kate Snyder before sitting down with former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

A Democrat who ran for governor in 2014, Michaud endorsed Bloomberg last week and introduced him Monday evening as the man “running to unite our country.”

“Mike has built a career based on calm and steady leadership, bringing people together and putting progress over partisanship,” said Michaud, who also served as an assistant secretary of labor during the Obama administration. “We need a leader in this White House who is a thoughtful decision-maker and who puts the country’s interests first.”

Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg talks with supporters after speaking at his new Maine field office in Scarborough on Monday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

A Massachusetts native from a middle-class background, Bloomberg built the financial services and media company that bears his name into a global powerhouse. He ran for mayor of New York City in 2001 – taking office just months after the September 11 terrorist attacks – as a Republican and would be re-elected two times even after he changed his party affiliation to independent.

Since leaving office in 2013, Bloomberg has used his immense personal wealth to finance political campaigns on gun control, health care and, most recently, to help Democratic candidates take back the House of Representatives during the 2018 elections.

Bloomberg was a late-comer to the 2020 Democratic presidential race, initially announcing that he would not seek the Democratic nomination only to reverse himself in November.

“I looked at the candidates and said the things that they’re promoting are just not feasible, are not practical or we can’t afford them,” Bloomberg said during a brief interview on Monday. “And I didn’t think any of them could beat Donald Trump.”

The billionaire is bankrolling his entire campaign, spending roughly $250 million on political advertising so far and suggesting he would be willing to spend up to $2 billion on the race. But his late decision to jump in meant he didn’t have time to lay the campaign groundwork in the first caucus or primary states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

As a result, Bloomberg has made the unconventional decision to skip campaigning in the first four states and, instead, focus on the 14 “Super Tuesday” primaries that include large states such as California, Texas and Virginia. Maine lawmakers voted last year to switch from presidential caucuses to primaries in hopes to making the state more relevant during the 2020 elections.

Bloomberg has blanketed Super Tuesday states with political advertising touting both his presidency and, in the case of Maine and a handful of other states, urging Republican senators to support removing Trump from office.

It is unclear how Bloomberg’s unusual strategy will play out. Because he is not raising money, Bloomberg has not met the minimum donor qualifications needed to participate in presidential debates. However, a Monmouth University poll of national voters released last week has Bloomberg in fourth place in the crowded field while a CNN poll put him in fifth.

Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks at his new Maine field office in Scarborough on Monday. He told his audience “while the other Democrats attack each other, I am focusing on trying to make a case against Donald Trump because we’ve just got to beat him.” Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

He is positioning himself as a moderate with both government and business experience who will spend more time solving problems and less time tweeting, a reference to Trump’s constant messaging on social media.

“I plan to win in this state,” Bloomberg told the Scarborough crowd. “We need to nominate someone who will give us the best shot of winning here and in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio and Florida. We’ve just got to beat Donald Trump. We cannot stand four more years of him doing what he is doing.”

Bloomberg will undoubtedly face some political headwinds in Maine and other rural states.

In addition to having to overcome some voters’ reluctance to support a former mayor of New York City, Bloomberg drew criticism in rural Maine for bankrolling the unsuccessful 2016 ballot campaign to expand background checks on gun purchases and transfers in Maine.

Bloomberg said many of the issues facing rural areas are the same ones facing large cities, including access to health care and the opioid crisis. Bloomberg also highlighted the concerns of lobstermen facing climate change and the lack of broadband internet access in rural areas.

“If you go to a tiny city in any state, I can have a conversation with the mayor and we have lots of things to talk about because it really is the same,” Bloomberg said an interview.

Old Orchard Beach resident Arnold Boecklin was among those who received tickets to attend Bloomberg’s campaign kickoff at the new Scarborough office on U.S. 1. A registered Democrat, Boecklin said was an “anyone but Trump” supporter but also believes a moderate may have the best odds.

While he supports the idea of single-payer health care and the other progressive ideas espoused by candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Boecklin doesn’t believe it is realistic to expect them to be accomplished all at once.

“My first choices would be Mayor Pete (Buttigieg) or Bloomberg, probably in that order,” he said. “But Bloomberg might be more of a centrist candidate. And I’m looking for somebody who can get elected and somebody who can bring people together.”


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