Mike Bloomberg the candidate came to Greensboro under an opaque veil of rain, dampening the line of weatherproofed folks outside the Cadillac Service Garage waiting to hear him speak, and the Second Amendment protesters on the sidewalk across the street alike.
Bloomberg’s trains run on time — this gaggle scheduled for 9:30 a.m. actually began by 9:38 — unheard of in campaign circles — but the crowd of close to 300 was orderly, Boomer heavy and almost exclusively white.
The rub on Bloomberg this week has been towards his hostility towards African Americans during his time as mayor of New York City: redlining, which he said he approved of; stop and frisk, which put young black men disproportionately at risk; audio from a 2015 speech, leaked this week, in which he said that 95 percent of murderers and murder victims in NYC “are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city.”
But he’s not here to talk about that. He’s here to drop names. Like the black mayor of Columbia, SC, Steve Benjamin, his campaign co-chair, standing on the fringe of the crowd. And television’s Judge Judy, whom he says brought him on a barbecue road trip through four cities in Texas. He name-drops the Greensboro sit-ins; former Gov. Bev. Perdue, who has endorsed him; 9/11; and, of course, Donald Trump, the man he came here to beat.
Trump has already re-tweeted about him this morning, Bloomberg says, and parries the president’s newest nickname for him: Little Mike.
“Where I come from,” Bloomberg says, “we measure your height from the neck up.”
“He’s from New York and I’m from New York,” he says. “And I know how to deal with New York bullies.”
Like the show “Sex in the City,” New York is a recurring character in his remarks. He lists his accomplishments in healthcare, education, gun laws, reduction of the city’s carbon footprint and increase in jobs.
Unlike a lot of New Yorkers who come to the city, Bloomberg tries not to talk down to the people of Greensboro, and he almost pulls it off — until he outlines his strategy for winning in North Carolina.
“We’ve got eight offices across the state,” he says, “including one here in Gainesboro.”
It’s really his only gaffe, eliciting the loudest — and only — groan from the audience.
But Bloomberg the businessman carries on with his remarks like it never happened, like a pro.
Now in CEO mode, he outlines his plan to defeat Donald Trump, the issue that’s gotten the most traction in the room this morning, like he’s presiding over a morning meeting with the crew.
And like all good meetings, the whole thing is over in about 30 minutes.