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Bloomberg: Will he, won't he?

Bloomberg: Will he, won't he?

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary Michael Bloomberg has confirmed he is considering a run for the White House this year. The billionaire's interview with the Financial Times verifies a report a few weeks ago in The New York Times. It has also given every other candidate something to think about as last minute campaigning in the granite state reaches its snowy crescendo.

So, what do we need to know about Bloomberg, the businessman, philanthropist and former New York mayor who's decribed by hedge fund manager investor Bill Ackman  as 'the best of Trump without the worst of Trump'? From The New York Daily News comes this handy list of 10 essential factoids. Among other things, it documents Bloomberg's support for same-sex marriage, tighter gun controls, smoking restrictions, and regulations to encourage healthier eating (though he did have to back down on his plan to ban really, really large cups of soft drink after it was found to be unconstitutional). He's also pro-choice, a position he shares with half the country, according to a 2015 Gallup poll.

How would a Bloomberg run affect the race? If you look at the polling available, you'd have to say the results are inconclusive. A Bloomberg Politics Des Moines Register poll of Iowa voters a few weeks ago found half of Republican caucus-goers didn't like him, or in pollster speak, had an unfavourable view. That fell to 26% among Democrat caucus goers  but only  17% indicated they liked the man. A nationwide poll conducted by well known pollster Frank Luntz, however, concluded 29% of Americans would support Bloomberg in a theoretical three-way race between the former mayor, Donald Trump, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

The consensus view is the person with most to lose from a Bloomberg campaign (aside from the potential candidate himself who figures a campaign would cost a cool $1billion) is Clinton. The original NY Times report that tipped a Bloomberg run suggested he had had some unfavourable things to say about the former secretary of state in relation to her use of a private email server.  Daily Beast special correspondent Michale Tomasky pushed the speculation a bit further. [fold]

'Let’s assume that Bloomberg was aghast at the email situation last year, but that it’s faded, and he’s now decided he’d be fine with a Clinton presidency even as he explores a bid of his own. OK. But even this brings us to another thought—that maybe Bloomberg thinks there’s some chance Clinton might be indicted sometime soon.'

Despite all the pooh-poohing from the Clinton camp, the email saga refuses to die. The latest development is confirmation from the FBI that it is indeed investigating Clinton's private emails.

While the FBI has merely stated what everyone knew, Clinton's many enemies will pounce. Even before the FBI confirmation, conservative voices, like Brian Darling, were hoping the scandal would bring Clinton down.

It will be very interesting to watch as her head to head numbers start to plunge whether Democrats toss Hillary under the political bus and look for a new candidate.

Odds are this will remain wishful thinking. And Bloomberg won't keep us guessing for long. In the FT interview, he confirmed his name would have to be on ballot papers by the beginning of March. Which means just a few more weeks of diverting conjecture about possible ballot sheets that could pit two billionaires against an evangelist and a socialist.

So how would you describe a contest between Sanders (D), Cruz (R), Trump (I) and Bloomberg (I). 'It'd be incredible,' tweeted @Zackbeauchamp, world correspondent at @voxdotcom. At best, it is also a remote possibility. But,  given the form demonstrated in this race to date, it would be foolish to rule it out. 

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images 

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