Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s reported history of sexist comments and recorded remarks about the treatment of minorities have already threatened his presidential campaign before he even appears on a primary ballot.
Bloomberg, who is rising in national polls and has spent hundreds of millions in preparation for the Super Tuesday primaries in March, is facing a coinciding wave of scrutiny over his conduct as mayor and as CEO of his media and financial services empire.
“If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s,” Bloomberg supposedly said, according to a compilation titled “Wit & Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg,” a gag gift presented to him for his birthday in 1990 and which was published by The Washington Post. The collection of statements bears an editor’s note that says, “Yes, these are all actual quotes. No, nothing has been embellished or exaggerated. And yes, some things were too outrageous to include.”
The Post published the collection alongside a report featuring detailed allegations from lawsuits and depositions against Bloomberg, as well as witness interviews, that described misogynistic remarks and a “pattern and practice of sexual harassment, sexual degradation of women and discrimination.”
Among the allegations against Bloomberg was an incident where a female employee announced she was pregnant, and Bloomberg allegedly reacted by saying, “Kill it!”
Other remarks in the 34-page booklet, meanwhile, include Bloomberg’s alleged description of a competitor as a “Cokehead, womanizing, f–,” and an off-color entry listed under the category “On Negotiations”:
“What do I want? I want an exclusive, 10-year contract, an automatic extension, and I want you to pay me. And I want a bl– job from [name redacted]. Have you seen [name redacted] lately? Not bad for 50,” he supposedly said.
About his company’s Bloomberg terminal, he allegedly said, “It will do everything, including give you a bl– job. I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business.”
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump’s campaign could use these alleged statements against Bloomberg.
“The comments he’s made about women, the lawsuits, that is all fair game,” Conway said, calling the remarks “far worse” than what Trump was caught saying in the infamous “Access Hollywood” video.
Bloomberg campaign spokesman Stu Loeser told the Post that the statements are not real quotes.
“Mike simply did not say the things somebody wrote in this gag gift, which has been circulating for 30 years and has been quoted in every previous election Mike has been in,” Loeser said, adding, “Mike openly admits his words have not always lined up with his values and that way he has led his life and some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong.”
Other remarks, however, have been recorded on video or audio and could impact Bloomberg’s relationship with minorities.
In a clip from a 2013 radio interview, Bloomberg suggested that police stop white people “too much” and minorities “too little.”
In an audio clip from his 2015 appearance at the Aspen Institute, Bloomberg defended the controversial “stop and frisk” policy, while acknowledging that it targeted minorities.
“Ninety-five percent of murders — murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops,” he said. “They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city [inaudible]. And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed.”
He went on to say that minority neighborhoods were a focus for a reason and that throwing kids “up against the wall” helped get guns off the streets.
“So one of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods,” Bloomberg is heard saying on the recording. “Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them. … And then they start… ‘Oh I don’t want to get caught.’ So they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Bloomberg said he “inherited the police practice of stop and frisk,” which he stressed he “cut” back by 95 percent by the time he left office. He admitted he “should’ve done it faster and sooner” and said he has “taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on black and Latino communities.”
Bloomberg also drew ire for his explanation of the 2008 market crash. Bloomberg had blamed it in part on the elimination of a discriminatory housing practice known as “redlining,” where banks would refuse credit to people based on where they lived, affecting minorities living in poorer areas.
One of his 2020 opponents, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., chided Bloomberg for this in a recent interview.
“What the mayor is really saying is, this crisis could have been averted if the banks had just been able to discriminate against black and brown people more,” Warren said.
Conway also piled on Bloomberg for this.
“The African-American community weren’t the perpetrators of that financial crisis,” Conway said. “Many of them were the victims. What is he talking about?”
Loeser said that Bloomberg “attacked predatory lending” as mayor and, if elected president, has a plan to “help a million more black families buy a house, and counteract the effects of redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis.”
Other statements made by Bloomberg may not be offensive to women or minorities, but could still be problematic as Bloomberg tries to garner support in America’s heartland.
At a 2016 event at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, Bloomberg spoke of farming in simplistic terms.
“You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that,” Bloomberg said. He contrasted that with the information industry, where he said, “You have to have a different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter.”
Bloomberg skipped early caucuses and primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, and is also not competing in Nevada or South Carolina, focusing his efforts instead on the many states up for grabs March 3 on Super Tuesday. That strategy shines an ironic light on another statement from the book of alleged quotes: ”There are certain states you don’t go to.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Joseph Wulfson, David Aaro, Paul Steinhauser, Tyler Olson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.