Before Mike Bloomberg began coveting the White House, the former New York City mayor openly identified as a “big fan” and “friend” of President Donald Trump.
In the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, as Trump was seriously hinting at a run, Bloomberg frequently went out of his way to not only the praise the billionaire real estate mogul, but he also refused to offer criticism. The mayor’s strategy was exhibited during a televised appearance on Good Morning America in February 2011.
Although Bloomberg was supposed to be on the show to promote his work with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, the discussion quickly turned political. The segue was made when the show’s then-host, George Stephanopoulos, inquired if Bloomberg thought Trump was going to mount a run for president in 2012. At the time, Trump was a favorite of the Tea Party movement because of his strong denunciations of then-President Barack Obama’s policies.
“America’s a wonderful country,” Bloomberg said about Trump’s potential candidacy. “Everybody who’s born here and is over 35 has the opportunity.”
The mayor quickly added that although he knew Trump, he was not privy to any inside information.
“He’s a great guy. He doesn’t do everything he says, but he sure tries,” Bloomberg added. “And I’m a big fan of Donald Trump.”
mike bloomberg: “i know donald trump. he’s a great guy…i’m a big fan of donald trump.” pic.twitter.com/2cGOv4tuT6
— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) February 19, 2020
Only a few short months later, Bloomberg echoed the sentiment. During an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday in April 2011, the mayor was asked openly if he viewed Trump as a serious contender for the oval office amid discussion of the upcoming election.
“I’m a friend of Donald Trump, he’s a New York icon,” Bloomberg said. “Anybody can run for president if you’re 35, an American citizen, and if you were born here.”
When pressed by Wallace whether Trump’s claims that then-President Barack Obama was not an American citizen were disqualifying, Bloomberg demurred from attacking his fellow New Yorker.
“The president was born here,” the mayor said. “This birther issue is more than one person, there’s a lot of roots that have glommed on to this.”
mike bloomberg on fox news in 2011: “i’m a friend of donald trump. he’s a new york icon.”
he’s then asked about trump’s racist birther attacks on obama. bloomberg downplays trump’s involvement: “this birther issue is more than one person, lots of groups have glommed on to this” pic.twitter.com/iqW2rm19BK
— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) February 14, 2020
Bloomberg continued the praise well after Trump opted to pass on challenging Obama. “If there is anybody who has changed this city, it is Donald Trump,” the mayor said when speaking at the opening of Trump’s golf course in the Bronx in October 2013.
In fact, Bloomberg seems to have kept an open mind about Trump, even after the latter’s eventual election to the presidency. In June 2017, while most Democrats were still registering their opposition to the results of the 2016 presidential election, Bloomberg was urging the country to move on and unite behind Trump.
“He’s our president, and we need this country to be run well. I didn’t vote for him,” Bloomberg said during an appearance on ABC’s The View. “Let’s just all hope that Donald Trump is a good president of the United States.”
“You can protest. You can elect other officials, write letters, make phone calls,” he added. “But in the end, the public has spoken, whether you like the results or not.”
The once chummy relationship between Bloomberg and Trump, built and fortified through decades of coexistence in New York City’s social elite, seems to have broken down in the past three years. Even though no indication has been given, Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris Climate Accord and his advocacy for the Second Amendment—two issues of vital importance to Bloomberg—are speculated to have played a role.
Despite the relationship no longer being active, the fact that it ever existed has become fodder for Bloomberg’s rivals for the Democrat nomination. Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shared a photo of Trump and Bloomberg golfing when responding to accusations that his supporters were too volatile from the former mayor.