Michael Bloomberg has ended his bid for the White House and thrown his support behind former vice-president Joe Biden after his unprecedented half-billion-dollar campaign managed to secure only a single contest on Super Tuesday.
“Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult,” Mr Bloomberg said in a statement released on Wednesday morning by his campaign.
“After yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible — and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists,” he added.
Mr Bloomberg bowed out after the factor that aides had cited as the key justification for his candidacy when he entered the race in November — a flagging campaign by Mr Biden — appeared to evaporate on Tuesday in stunning fashion.
After a weak start to his campaign, Mr Biden turned in a dominant performance on Super Tuesday, in part by capturing the moderate Democratic voters sought by Mr Bloomberg.
Mr Biden won the southern states, as well as Texas. He even managed to prevail in Massachusetts, a state where he barely campaigned.
Even before Super Tuesday, which featured contests in 14 states and one territory, some Democratic donors and advisers in the Bloomberg camp were pushing the candidate to back down following Mr Biden’s victory on Saturday in the South Carolina primary, according to people briefed on the discussions. Mr Bloomberg and more hawkish advisers ultimately decided to press ahead.
Mike Murphy, the veteran campaign strategist, argued that there was no room in the race for both Mr Bloomberg and Mr Biden. “He needed Biden to fall apart early and it almost happened. Then South Carolina put Biden back in the race,” Mr Murphy said.
A key question now will be how Mr Bloomberg puts his formidable campaign machine to use for the eventual Democratic nominee.
With his endorsement, Mr Bloomberg made clear that he would prefer that be Mr Biden as opposed to his democratic socialist rival, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
“I’ve known Joe for a very long time. I know his decency, his honesty, and his commitment to the issues that are so important to our country — including gun safety, healthcare, climate change, and good jobs,” Mr Bloomberg stated. “Today I am glad to endorse him — and I will work to make him the next President of the United States.”
Mr Bloomberg’s network, which boasts 2,400 well-paid staffers and hundreds of campaign offices across the country, would be of particular use to Mr Biden’s poorly resourced campaign.
“If the Democrats win [in November] he’s going to be a big reason why because his operation is far more robust than anything the [Democratic party] has,” Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential candidate, told CNN on Tuesday night, saying Mr Bloomberg’s high-tech campaign headquarters in New York City is “like a spaceship.”
From the outset, Mr Bloomberg’s campaign had been regarded as a long shot — and an unorthodox one at that. The Wall Street trader-turned-billionaire media entrepreneur entered the race months after the other candidates, in November, and opted to skip the early voting states where contenders typically hope to build momentum.
Instead, he bet his fortune on Super Tuesday, launching a barrage of advertisements on the airwaves and social media that was unprecedented in its scale and cost. Mr Bloomberg touted his pragmatism and his success both in business and as the three-term mayor who guided New York City’s recovery from the September 11 terrorist attacks.
He rose steadily in the polls but stumbled badly in his first appearance on the debate stage. He was eviscerated by Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, for his wealth and his company’s treatment of women, and failed to muster much of a response.
Throughout the campaign, Mr Bloomberg also struggled to explain to Democratic voters his support for “stop-and-frisk” policing tactics that unfairly targeted African American and Hispanic voters.
Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the wealthy Democratic donor, said that Mr Bloomberg has entered the race with “the best of intentions” but called on him on Tuesday night to divert his resources to Mr Biden.
“[Mr Bloomberg] is devoted to defeating Trump and worried that Sanders and Biden could not do it. Biden has now rallied and found his connection to the American people,” she added.
“I hope that Mike will realise that his best role at this point is to use his vast resources to support Joe Biden. It would be an elegant and dignified end to an honourable quest for the White House.”