President Donald Trump on Thursday called Michael Bloomberg “a 5’4″ mass of dead energy” and a “loser.” Bloomberg shot back by telling Trump that their mutual acquaintances in New York “call you a carnival barking clown.”
Matching insult with an insult is hardly a strategy of taking the high ground, but for Bloomberg, it’s undoubtedly a strategy that he believes can only help him at this stage in the campaign.
As Bloomberg moves up in the polls, all of the attention from the president helps make his case that he is the one that Trump most fears in the general election. And by responding to Trump’s insults with his own, Bloomberg offers a preview of how he would respond.
What’s more, the Thursday morning back and forth between the two New Yorkers was bait for cable news segments. A CNN chyron read, “Do escalating Bloomberg attacks reveal Trump’s 2020 fear?”
Trump has tweeted or retweeted about Bloomberg ten times since the former New York mayor launched his presidential campaign. In turn, Bloomberg has poured hundreds of millions into the race — reportedly more than $250 million on TV and radio ads — and has said that he’ll be willing to continue to onslaught even if he is not the nominee.
Trump is now trying to stir up the Democratic race by driving up Bloomberg’s negatives, particularly if he qualifies for the next primary debate in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Trump is also trying to foment divisions between Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders, who has attacked the billionaire class throughout his campaign.
“Mini Mike is a 5’4” mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians. No boxes please. He hates Crazy Bernie and will, with enough money, possibly stop him. Bernie’s people will go nuts!” Trump wrote.
Earlier this week, Trump called Bloomberg a “total racist,” before deleting the tweet. That was a reference to recently unearthed audio of Bloomberg defending New York City’s “stop and frisk” policies while he was mayor. But Trump has never apologized or backed away from his attacks on the Central Park Five, the group of African American and Latino men who were wrongly accused of raping a female jogger in 1989.
Bloomberg tweeted on Thursday that he has the “record and resources” to beat Trump.
“@realDonaldTrump – we know many of the same people in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown. They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence. I have the record & the resources to defeat you. And I will.”
He also used one of Trump’s favorite Twitter tactics, tweeting out a GIF of Russell Crowe from Gladiator.