SPRINGFIELD — The presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg formally opened an office in Springfield on Tuesday, touting the former New York mayor as "a leader, a learner, and a listener'' who has what it takes to oust Donald Trump from the White House.
The Worthington Street office, which was festooned with banners, balloons, and “I Like Mike” signs, is the first of six Bloomberg campaign offices planned for the state. The other Massachusetts offices will be located in Brookline, Fall River, Lowell, and Quincy.
With Bloomberg in New York on Tuesday, Michael Nutter, the former mayor of Philadelphia who is national co-chairman of Bloomberg’s campaign, hosted the opening. Nutter, addressing about 30 people who gathered for the event, spoke of Bloomberg’s dedication and passion for people.
"He’s serious about this effort and since November of 2016 has been singularly focused on defeating Donald Trump in 2020,” Nutter said. He noted that within 10 weeks, the campaign has opened campaign offices in 40 states and now has 2,100 staff members.
Bloomberg, the billionaire Medford native, has been rising in the polls after launching a self-financed run and skipped New Hampshire and other early voting states to wait for Super Tuesday. The one-time Republican is now running as a Democrat.
“We have work to do and we need your help. Candidates are candidates. Candidates can’t win elections by themselves,” Nutter added. “The stakes could not be higher because it really is true that this is a fight for democracy.”
Northampton resident Lisa Simoneaux, 56, said that while she likes some of the other Democratic candidates, “I just don’t know if they’re strong enough, in the end, to really stand up to [Trump] the way I think Mike Bloomberg can.”
Louis Rubet, 42, of Springfield agreed. “I like the way he punches back ... I think he has the ability to stick it right to Trump,” he said.
While Bloomberg’s rivals say that the billionaire is trying to buy the presidency, Jordan Overstreet, Bloomberg’s state director, believes that Bloomberg “has invested his money to give voice to people who might not normally have a voice." He thinks that people should look beyond the money and pay attention to how Bloomberg is spending it.
Others said Tuesday that Bloomberg speaks to Americans of all political affiliations and therefore has the power to unify the country.
“He’s a uniter, not a divider. He a doer, not a talker,” Nutter said.
The new office opened as Bloomberg faced criticism for resurfaced 2015 comments in which he defended the controversial police tactic known as “stop and frisk,” which has been found to disproportionately affect minorities.
Trump, who himself has supported stop-and-frisk policies, tweeted a clip of the audio declaring “Bloomberg’s a racist.” Trump later deleted the tweet.
Bloomberg responded that the 2015 remarks “do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity."
Material from The Associated Press was included in this report.