Bloomberg to make campaign stop in RI on Wednesday

Politics
Michael Bloomberg

Democratic Presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gestures while taking part in an on-stage conversation with former California Gov. Jerry Brown at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in San Francisco. Bloomberg made his first visit to California as a Democratic presidential candidate, appearing earlier with the mayor of Stockton who’s championed universal basic income. Bloomberg and Brown talked about America’s Pledge, bringing together leaders to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions and delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is holding a campaign event in Providence on Wednesday, according to a news release.

The former New York City mayor — who has been rising in the national polls based on an unusual, TV-heavy strategy that skips the early states — has scheduled a 9:45 a.m. event at the downtown Wexford Innovation Complex.

“Mike will share why he is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump in November and unite the country,” the campaign said on a page where voters can RSVP.

In a statement, the campaign said Bloomberg “has already begun laying the groundwork for an aggressive effort in Rhode Island ahead of the state’s April 28 primary.” He plans to open an office in the coming weeks and hire nearly two dozen state staffers.

Few presidential hopefuls have visited Rhode Island this cycle, though Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg both held fundraisers here last fall. (Bloomberg is not accepting donations, using his personal fortune to fund his bid.) Bloomberg has made a point of visiting states that are often overlooked during the primary process.

A spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo — a Bloomberg ally who has yet to endorse a presidential candidate — confirmed Tuesday night she will be “meeting with Bloomberg” while he’s in the state but declined to say whether she will endorse him.

No other governors have endorsed Bloomberg so far, and as the most recent chair of the Democratic Governors Association, such a move by Raimondo would get national attention.

The two have been political allies for years, and Raimondo offered a supportive statement — though not an endorsement — at the Bloomberg campaign’s request when he started running last November. The governor also views the site of Bloomberg’s event tomorrow, the Wexford building, as a crowning achievement of her tenure.

Former Raimondo aides Gabe Amo and David Allard are among those currently working for Bloomberg’s campaign.

Raimondo isn’t the only leading Rhode Island Democrat who has expressed openness to a Bloomberg bid. A year ago, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers he was intrigued by the idea.

“He brings so much money and power and clout into this that he could basically completely self-fund, and he’s also in a position to fend off the Republican attack and smear machine,” Whitehouse said at the time. He added, “I don’t necessarily agree with him on all his positions, but I’ve got to admire him on the work he’s done on climate and on guns.”

Whitehouse was more circumspect when Bloomberg actually announced months later, saying only, “Like any candidate, he’s entitled to the chance to share his ideas with the electorate.”

The Rhode Island presidential primary isn’t until April 28, but Massachusetts votes on Super Tuesday, which is March 3.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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