The three billionaires running in the 2020 presidential race are battling over recently resurfaced audio from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted and then deleted audio of a Bloomberg speech from 2015 defending stop and frisk, calling Bloomberg “A TOTAL RACIST.” Trump has himself endorsed the policing tactic, which disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities, multiple times, saying in a speech in 2018 “It’s got to be properly applied, but stop-and-frisk works.”
The Bloomberg audio, which was unearthed by podcast host Benjamin Dixon Monday and ricocheted around the Internet on Tuesday, is from a speech the former mayor of New York City made at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colorado in 2015.
“Ninety-five percent of your murders—murderers and murder victims—fit one M.O.,” Bloomberg told the crowd at the event, according to the audio. “You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city.”
He went on to say, “We put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes. That’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is," and that the way "to get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the walls and frisk them.”
After Trump deleted the tweet, for unclear reasons, Bloomberg released a statement, saying, “I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk,” but that he should have cut it back “faster and sooner.” “I regret that and I have apologized,” Bloomberg said. After defending the practice for more than a decade, Bloomberg disavowed it in November, before announcing that he was running for president.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire businessman also competing for the Democratic nomination, decided to join the scrum between the wealthiest candidates, putting out a statement of his own calling Bloomberg's remarks "extremely disturbing."
Bloomberg is not competing in New Hampshire, where the first in the nation Democratic primary is underway today, but both he and Steyer are blanketing the airwaves in later races with ads largely funded by their own fortunes.