Mike Bloomberg officially entered the 2020 Democratic presidential race Sunday, launching a multimillion dollar ad campaign following weeks of speculation about whether the billionaire would join the already-crowded field.
"We cannot afford four more years of President Trump's reckless and unethical actions," Bloomberg said on his website. "He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage."
In a television ad, he touts his 12-year record as New York mayor, experience as a businessman and his middle-class upbringing. The ad promises "to rebuild the country and restore faith in the dream that defines us." His campaign vows to raise taxes on the wealthy, expand health insurance without eliminating private plans and take action on gun control and climate change.
The new ad is part of the 77-year-old Bloomberg's massive $31 million television ad campaign that will run through at least Dec. 3.
Bloomberg, founder of the Bloomberg L.P. media company and a former Republican, already filed paperwork to enter the March 3 Alabama primary. Earlier this year, he said he would not be running for president.
Bloomberg's calculus has clearly changed. He was recently talking with his close allies about running for president as former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to stumble as a front-runner against Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"Mike has never accepted campaign contributions and never will," campaign communications director Jason Schechter said. "He is wholly independent of special interests. He is only focused on doing what's right, without fear or favor."
Warren has become a critic of the wealthy having too much influence in politics and has created a strong following within the Democratic Party with her anti-Wall Street plans. After reports emerged that Bloomberg was inching closer to a run, Warren took aim at him on Twitter.
Anticipating Bloomberg's announcement, another hopeful for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, tweeted Friday that the billionaire was planning to buy the election.
In an apparent attempt to answer criticism from the left, Bloomberg's announcement outlined plans for "raising taxes on wealthy individuals like me."
Bloomberg's fortune is estimated at $54 billion, making him the nation's eighth-richest person, according to Forbes. He has been a key financier for Democrats, including the 2018 congressional midterm elections. He spent over $100 million helping the party recapture the House.
Since his days as mayor, he's been a strong opponent of the National Rifle Association and helped fund a gun safety group, Everytown for Gun Safety.
One of his biggest problems may be getting African Americans enthusiastic about his candidacy. When he was mayor, he fully supported the police department's "stop-and-fisk" policy that disproportionately targeted minority men. Earlier this month, he apologized at a black megachurch in Brooklyn, saying: "I was wrong, and I'm sorry."
President Donald Trump also took a swipe at Bloomberg prior to his announcement.
"There's nobody I would rather run against than Little Michael," Trump told reporters this month. He said Bloomberg doesn't have the "magic" to run a successful campaign.
That didn't seem bother Bloomberg.
"Defeating Trump — and rebuilding America — is the most urgent and important fight of our lives. And I'm going all in," he said in his announcement. "I offer myself as a doer and a problem solver – not a talker. And as someone who is ready to take on the tough fights – and win.
Max Young, chief public affairs officer for Everytown for Gun Safety, said that Bloomberg "has spent his life fighting for gun safety and is a hero to our movement."
"His entrance into the race will ensure that this issue stays front and center for the remainder of the campaign, which will benefit the movement and gun safety candidates up and down the ballot," he said.