The Democratic Party gave a prime time speaking slot to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg at the party’s convention Wednesday night for one reason: He is the perfect foil to Donald Trump.
When the billionaire took the stage at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, he became a powerful surrogate for the Democrats this election cycle because he is in a unique position to bring home two main points about this presidential election.
First, Bloomberg, who has been both a Republican and a Democrat but is now neither, spoke to his fellow independents watching the convention. He attempted to connect with them, asserting that he has never believed either party has all the answers, even referencing his disagreements with Hillary Clinton. But at a time when some supporters of Bernie Sanders talk openly about not supporting Clinton—and apathy for her campaign more broadly threatens to doom her candidacy—Bloomberg pleaded with independents and disillusioned Democrats not to make the perfect the enemy of the good.
Whatever your differences with Clinton are, he said, “we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”
Second, Bloomberg’s authority in denouncing Trump comes from the fact that he is a fellow New York billionaire. And from that place, Bloomberg eviscerated Trump’s business record. “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s running his business,” he said, noting Trump’s history of bankruptcies and bilking contractors. “God help us!”
“I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one,” he continued. “The richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.”
Bloomberg concluded with a few simple words that laid out the simple pitch he was making: “Together, let’s elect a sane, competent person.”
The speech was a gamble and Democratic officials didn’t know how the largely progressive crowd would react to Bloomberg. But they are probably feeling pretty good about the call they made.