Neither New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie nor former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would say on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether they would support an independent run for president by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Republican front-runner Donald Trump said he would welcome the competition.
Bloomberg reportedly is considering an independent run for the White House should Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a self-described socialist, win the Democratic nomination and real estate mogul Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz capture the Republican nod.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Bloomberg a “great friend” on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and pledged to relieve him of his worry by capturing the Democratic nomination. Sanders said he is confident that if Bloomberg does jump into a race against him and Trump, U.S. voters will reject the two billionaires and elect him instead.
“Michael has been a friend of mine over the years,” Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and again on CBS's “Face the Nation.” “I would love that competition.”
Christie said Bloomberg was a good mayor but refused to evaluate whether he would make a good president, saying until someone officially is in a race and offering policy ideas, there’s no basis on which to make an evaluation.
Bush said he is confident the election process will work, and a viable candidate will be selected by the party. “The party process is going to work differently than the pundits are saying,” Bush said. “I want to be the conservative candidate.”
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he really hasn’t thought much about a Bloomberg candidacy. He said once the former mayor makes his announcement official, then he’ll talk about it. Right now, all Bloomberg is is a guy thinking about running. “There are a lot of guys like that,” Rubio said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Shortly after the Bloomberg story broke Saturday, GOP presidential rivals Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul had differing reactions, Kasich welcoming a Bloomberg candidacy and Paul tweeting there’s already one billionaire in the race and no need for a second.
Now Nanny @MikeBloomberg thinking of running! Another liberal billionaire from NYC? I think that slot is taken...
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 23, 2016
A Fox News poll released Sunday indicated Trump has 34 percent support among likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers little more than a week before the voting begins, compared to 23 percent for Cruz. Rubio is in third with 12 percent. Among caucus-goers who describe themselves as very conservative, Cruz leads Trump 34 percent to 33 percent, while among evangelicals, Cruz has a 2 point edge.
In a companion New Hampshire poll, Trump led with 31 percent to 14 percent for Cruz, 13 percent for Rubio and 9 percent for Kasich.
Each of the polls queried 801 likely voters Jan. 18-21. The margins of error were pegged at 5 points.