Photo of Michael Bloomberg

Remarks on Opening the First State Campaign Office in Charlotte, North Carolina

December 15, 2019

Thank you for that warm welcome, and I also wanted to give special thanks to the mayor who has been stuck shepherding me around this city today. We sat in church and had a phenomenal time. The pastor gave one of the funniest, best sermons I've ever had. She and I couldn't stop giggling the whole time.

It's great to be here with you all here in beautiful Charlotte in the great state of North Carolina. The last time I was here was maybe six months ago. Afterwards we did an event, and I want to thank you all for coming out on Sunday. We promise not to keep you too long – know there's a Panthers game about to kick off. Yeah, well, we have the Giants and the Jets, so no working me over about this.

It's been a great visit so far. But there has been one disappointment: I was really looking forward to going to Price's Chicken Coop. Turns out they're closed on Sundays – who knew. Maybe we'll pick-up some Bojangles before I leave.

It's been great to meet some of the new staff that we've hired, and just quickly, I'd also like to thank a few people here: Smuggie – where'd you get the name Smuggie? James Mitchell, for everything he's done to make us feel at home here. You really are the greatest.

One of our national co-chairs made the trip: Mayor Steve Benjamin. I don't know whether Columbia, South Carolina appreciates what this guy does, but he's got to be one of America's mayor, and he really is just very helpful. And the fact that he comes from the other Carolina we're not going to hold against him.

And Alma Adams, and the chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, Jane Whitley. I appreciate you coming out.

And incidentally, I wanted to congratulate the mayor on your second term. I've gotten to know your mayor over the years, and she is one of the most dynamic mayors in the country.

Today we had a nice morning, and I put a call in to Harvey Gantt who I wanted to say hello to. We have a number of things in common. He actually designed the church that I just came from, but he also went to school in Boston 20 minutes from where I grew up. And it was another one of those schools that I couldn't get into. And he also is our landlord here.

This is our first state headquarters. All my headquarters campaign stuff was basically in one place in New York City for 12 years – three elections. I will say, I love campaigning, every one of them. And particularly the way they turned out so I was very happy about that. But I've never done anything on the scale of this. And somebody said, 'Why are you running for president?' And I said, well there's a whole bunch of reasons I'll come back to later on, but one of them is I really did like campaigning, I like people. And the people that I really like are those that aren't happy with everything because then you can explain why maybe they should be. Not all of them are convincible, but that's okay.

We are here for the long haul. Other campaigns come in and then they disappear before Super Tuesday. But we're here and we are going to stay here, not just through Super Tuesday, but through the Republican convention when you-know-who comes to town. And we'll be staying through November 3rd, when we defeat you-know-who and turn North Carolina blue.

To make that happen, we need a nominee who can run a campaign that will appeal to Americans across our divides, and that's exactly the kind of campaign that we plan to run.

I am a big believer that the President of the United States' job is not to be a party leader, it's to run the country and represent everybody no matter what their political persuasion is.

Unfortunately, I gave a speech back in must have been about August of 2016 at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia where I said that Hillary Clinton was the one that I was going to vote for, and that Donald Trump is not the right kind of person to be President of the United States. And nothing that he's done or said has changed my mind. We just have to change presidents and we just cannot afford to lose this election. We can't have another four years of Donald Trump with his recklessness and his unethical actions. If he wins another term, it'd be so hard to reverse this. So we actually have to do something about it.

Unfortunately, I think the chances of Donald Trump's reelection have gone up over the last year, and that was one of the things that convinced me to enter the race. Shame on me if I'm not willing to do what I've asked you to do, and that is help us change the president, and the Republicans have just not done what this country needs. And so we need to turn things blue and get us back working together, working on the straight track.

What we have to do is unite each other and rebuild America. And I think this is the beginning of that.

My staff said you should tell people what you have in common with Donald Trump – after all, we both come from New York. And people say how well do you know him? Well, we've cut some ribbons together and we took the subway together and that sort of thing, but we don't have an awful lot in common. He inherited his money – and I didn't. My father made $6,000 the best year of his life. I started my company from scratch.

Donald played a CEO on reality TV – I actually worked as one in real life.

He filed for bankruptcy six times – I guess he finally found something he was good at. My company has grown every year, even during recessions. And unlike Donald Trump, I give away virtually all of my company's profits to support issues that I've devoted my life to. I care about a handful of things, but they are so important, particularly when I look at my kids, and we all have to pull together.

Gun violence is just an outrage in this country. We have to do something about it. Public health, there are too many people that don't get the kind of medical care and don't know what things are hurting themselves, and places where it's dangerous to go.

Education is maybe the number one priority long-term, you just have to have a good education or you're not going to be able to survive in the economy that we're going in to. And climate change, which has the potential to destroy the planet, and we just have to stop saying it's not real and start doing something about it. We all have to get together, and we know what to do, it's just we're not willing to do it or not willing to do it fast enough.

And Donald, also, if you believe what the court said, he cheated his own charity out of money. I don't know how you could do that.

There's one more difference that I wanted to mention: he has no respect for the truth, all kidding aside. He just makes up alternative facts, and he denies science.

I have a saying in my company: in God we trust. Everyone else, bring data. We need a president who isn't afraid to face the facts and speak the truth. And if he would do that he'd be a much better president, but he doesn't seem to be able to do that. That's the only way I think that we're going to be able to solve the problems that this country faces – and we all know what they are.

We have a health care system that costs us too much and doesn't cover everyone – including more than one million people here in North Carolina that are not covered.

We have an immigration system that is cruel and dysfunctional, and everyone here knows that walls won't fix this.

Climate change is growing worse every single day.

We have children being gunned down in our streets by the thousands.

And we have an economy that is tilted against most Americans. We just can't keep going on this way.

The fact is, for example, the minimum wage in North Carolina is still $7.25. I don't know how to break this to anybody, but if you think about it, nobody can feed a family on $7.25, no less buy gifts to put under the tree.

In New York, I'm happy to say, we raised the minimum wage – it's gone up to $15 an hour, which is really much more able to be tolerated, people can continue to earn a living and take care of their families. There's no reason why we can't change that.

I'm a businessperson and I can tell you, the businesspeople can afford it. They'll complain a little bit, but we have to have our employees and our fellow citizens, our customers, everybody, be able to enjoy what America is all about and put food on the table.

I've been very lucky in my life, my family wasn't wealthy, but we always had a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs, and my sister and I were lucky enough to get a good education.

But what we did get from our parents more than anything was we learned to be honest and hardworking, and to respect other people. Those lessons that I learned at the kitchen table have stuck with me.

I worked my way through college and business school, if you were wondering. I did get a job when I got out of school, and then I got laid off when I was 39. I didn't get any job offers – so I started a company. And thank God I did get laid off, it turned out well. We have 20,000 employees around the world, who I think get paid well and treated well. Most of them seem happy. And we have a lot of customers right here in Charlotte. This is a big part of our business, and we have a lot of employees here to cover the banks and write news stories.

Why leave my company and run for mayor back then? I kept listening to people saying, oh the government doesn't work and that's just the way it is. And I couldn't figure out why that should be – why couldn't we have good government? If you can run a company well, you should be able to run the city well. And we made an enormous amount of progress in the 12 years I was lucky to be mayor. I will say that I loved every minute of it, I will say that a majority of the people loved me.

As the Mayor will tell you, you can't please all the people all the time, and everybody wants something and nobody wants to pay for it.

We did cut the murder rate in half in the 12 years that I was mayor, and I think we can do that nationally.

We did cut the incarceration rate by 39 percent in New York – even though it went up in the rest of the country. And I think we can do that again nationally.

We raised graduation rates in New York City by 42 percent – and at the same time one of the keys to that was we raised teacher salaries by 43 percent. And we can do the same thing nationally.

If you want good teachers or cops or firefighters or sanitation workers or clerical staff or whatever, you just have to pay them well. Same thing, it works for them, it works for each of us.

If you want to build affordable housing, a lot of it, we did record amounts. We have a formula for that, and we can certainly do it nationally.

And I might point out when it comes to climate change, we cut New York City's carbon footprint twice as much as the rest of the country, and we can do that again. And we have to do that, or we just don't have a future.

Now I can't tell you we did everything perfectly in New York, or solve every problem. I certainly made mistakes. But when I was first elected mayor, we were recovering from the tragedy of 9/11. And by the time I left office, the city was stronger and safer than it had ever been.

Now, Charlotte, I know, is not New York City – it may be better the Mayor would say. As a loyal citizens of New York I have to say no. It's the second best. I grew up in Boston, and my daughters who were born in New York have never forgiven me, keep saying you're not a real New Yorker, thank you very much.

But I'll be a president who makes, if I get elected, full partners of state and local leaders like Mayor Lyles, and working together we really can, I think, change this country for the better in so many ways.

So just let me tell you quickly what I'm going to do as president – and I emphasize the word 'do' in that because to me, leadership is not about making promises, anybody can make big promises. It's like shouting into the wind, or shaking your fist at the world. What doing is is bringing people together and getting things done.

If you ask me what do I think I do well, it isn't doing these things that I talked about. It is putting the team together that's going to do it. A very smart person once said if you spell out the word 'team' you'll find there's no 'I' in team. And what I'm good at is getting people together and supporting them, and when there are problems helping them get through those problems. But also delegating and giving people authority to go along with responsibility.

So briefly, here are just a couple of things that I'm going to get done as president. I'm going to make sure that every job pays a living wage. I'm going to make sure that every child can attend a top-quality school no matter what zip code they live in. You just can't have education depending on your zip code. In fact, in some zip codes you need more help than in another zip codes, and we don't unfortunately take it the right way.

I'm going to make sure that every family can breathe clean air and that America once again can lead the fight on climate change. You should know that thanks to my foundation, we have closed almost 60 percent of all the coal fired power plants in the country. I think the number is 299 out of 530, and that's reduced carbon footprint in the country already, and we think by 2030 we can get rid of all of the coal fired power plant carbon.

I will certainly focus and make sure every community is better protected against gun violence. Everytown, the Bloomberg Philanthropies gun effort, has had enormous progress. Half the states in the country have background checks now, and that really does cut particularly the suicide rate among young people, but also the murder rate.

I'm going to make sure that everybody that doesn't have health insurance should get it. You know, we don't have to spend an enormous amount of money. The federal numbers are already always big, but we just cannot – we're too compassionate and too wealthy a country to let 30 million people go unable to see a doctor if they have something really wrong.

I think we can do that and an awful lot more, but only if we win on November 3rd, and that means winning North Carolina and other states.

Right now, Donald Trump is campaigning in those swing states – while every other Democratic campaign is focused on other states. But not us.

We're campaigning here and in the states we need to win in November. We're also funding efforts to register voters in those states, and I don't have to tell you we have a serious problem – voter suppression is something that happens all too often in too many places. We just have to make sure that everybody has voting rights that the Constitution meant them to have, here and across the country.

I've never been one to run away from taking on the toughest fights. I look forward to taking on the toughest fights. I've taken on Donald Trump, the climate denier. And we built a coalition of 4,000 cities, states, and businesses that are committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement.

And we've taken on Donald Trump's support for the biggest polluters in the country, and we've closed the dirtiest coal-fired power plants.

I know how to take on Trump and win. We've beaten him before – and we can beat him again. And together, we can send him back to not Mar-a-Lago, but to Mother Russia.

Seriously, let me just close with just one thought. When I was a child and a Boy Scout – I loved the Boy Scouts – I was taught to believe in the promise and potential of America. I've always believed that America is at its best when we work together to find meaningful and lasting solutions to the big challenges that we face.

So I'm tired of a president that divides us for political purposes – by party, by race, by ethnicity, and by religion. The president, as I said at the beginning, is supposed to lead the whole country, and we've just got to stop pulling people apart and start bringing this country together. That's what I'll focus on.

In the months ahead, I'll announce my plans to address all the big issues facing the country. We have a plan for each of these things so you can judge and decide whether you think they'll work. But more than plans, what I like to think I offer is leadership.

I think if you look back at New York City for 12 years and talk to New Yorkers, generally they would say that we all pulled together, I never divided people. It was always we and included everybody. And while everything didn't work, enough worked that we left the city an awful lot better than we found it.

So I'm ready to get working. Mayor, thank you for everything. And Steve, thank you for everything.

Let's go turn North Carolina blue in 2020.

Michael Bloomberg, Remarks on Opening the First State Campaign Office in Charlotte, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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