Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a stinging criticism of Donald Trump Wednesday night from the standpoint of a political independent and a fellow billionaire businessman, urging voters whatever their party affiliation to back Hillary Clinton.
His primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was chock full of zingers, such as when he assailed Trump for his record of bankruptcies as a Manhattan real estate developer and chided him for eponymous products made overseas.
“Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s running his business? God help us,” Bloomberg said. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.”
But the thread running through the speech was a call for moderates to unite with Democrats behind their presidential nominee.
“I am asking you to join with me, not out of party loyalty, but out of love of country,” Bloomberg, who had considered a presidential run, said, rousing cheers at the Wells Fargo Center. “And together, let’s elect a sane, competent person.”
The self-made media mogul — one of the wealthiest men in the world — was elected to City Hall as a Republican but became an independent during his second of three terms. Before he served as mayor, Bloomberg was a Democrat.
He stressed on the convention stage that he supports candidates on either side of the aisle. Bloomberg in past presidential election cycles has endorsed Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who was the Republican nominee when New York City hosted the convention in 2004.
He hailed Clinton as a “unifier” who understands how to seek out consensus and can work with all factions of Congress.
Bloomberg had several other pointed insults for the Republican presidential nominee. He contrasted the media empire he founded with Trump’s business, which he noted was jumpstarted with a $1 million investment from the candidate’s father.
“Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy,” the former mayor said.
Bloomberg also criticized Trump as a “dangerous demagogue” and a “risky, reckless and radical choice” for the country.
He urged Americans not to sit out this election.
Immediately after the speech, Trump’s campaign in an email to reporters highlighted what it said was Bloomberg’s “zealotry on banning guns.” The former mayor has long been invested in national crusade to curb illegal guns.
Political experts said Wednesday night that Bloomberg’s credentials, coupled with his powerful speech, will go a long way in wooing moderate and swing voters to Clinton’s side.
“There could be no more effective witness against Donald Trump as a businessman than Michael Bloomberg,” Democratic consultant Robert Shrum told Newsday.
Shrum, also a professor of political science at the University of Southern California, said he saw Bloomberg’s remarks as an “unconventional convention speech” that also struck the right notes on patriotism and duty to country, especially when he evoked the 9/11 terror attacks.