Former Mayor of New York City, businessman and presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg came to Raleigh on Thursday to spread his message of comprehensive gun reform, expansion of the Affordable Care Act and an “all-in economy.”
During the rally, held at Raleigh Union Station, former North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue made remarks supporting his policies.
“As North Carolina’s first female governor, I am proud to welcome Mike Bloomberg to our great state,” Perdue said. “And I am proud to let you in on a little secret — I like Mike.”
Throughout the rally, the crowd of several hundred supporters responded to chants of “We like Mike” and “Mike will get it done.” Bloomberg, who opened his first headquarters in North Carolina, said this is the state where he can build a coalition of voters from across a broad spectrum. He has also held rallies in Charlotte, Fayetteville and Greensboro since starting his campaign less than three months ago.
“Now, while the other Democratic candidates are spending their time in Iowa and New Hampshire, I’ve been here,” Bloomberg said. “... To win in November, our party needs to win North Carolina.”
Arsidez León, Bloomberg’s regional organizing director and the vice president of LGBT Democrats for North Carolina, spoke to the crowd about supporting Bloomberg as an openly gay minority living in the state.
“I am a product of a civil rights activist mother and an immigration attorney father," León said. "I began this work in 2015 and am proud to say that I have campaigned every second since, because I believe that we have the option to do or not do. Today we stand on the precipice of a new age, and we in this room — the Mike 2020 team — we are trying to bring humanity back into our country.”
León, Perdue and Bloomberg all said the focus of the upcoming Democratic primary election has to be unseating President Donald Trump.
“We all know that the guy that’s sitting in the White House now can’t be there past November,” León said. “I, as a multi-racial, gay man living in the South, I know that we have so much to lose.”
Bloomberg then outlined his priorities if he were elected president.
“I know you’ve all heard the slogan, ‘Mike will get it done,’ and I thought I’d tell you all what that ‘it’ is,” Bloomberg said. “It means this November, sending Donald Trump back to Mar-a-Lago permanently. But that’s just the beginning — because getting it done means finally providing health insurance to every American who lacks it and lowering costs for everyone else.”
He went on to say he would build on "Obamacare", pass common sense gun safety laws, make America a global leader in the fight against climate change, create more jobs with higher wages, address discrimination and inequality, protect female reproductive rights and fix the “broken immigration system” of the U.S.
Bloomberg highlighted times during his tenure as mayor of New York City when he “reached across the aisle” of party divisions to accomplish things like raising teacher salaries 43 percent and increasing funding for public education. He also spoke to the importance of party loyalty, something he said stalled Democratic progress during the 2016 election.
“Let me be clear, my fellow Democrats in this race are all good people,” Bloomberg said. “If one of them wins the nomination — God forbid — I would support him or her.”
Dineen Etienne, a member of the crowd, interrupted Bloomberg during his speech to ask about his plans for helping unions and limiting pay-to-play tactics for small businesses. Etienne went to a rally in January to ask the same question and said she did not receive an answer, so she came to this event to confront Bloomberg on his plans.
“I asked him how he would help minorities at the state and federal levels secure contracts without racial disparities,” Etienne said. “And he just danced around my question.”
After receiving boos from the crowd for her criticism of Bloomberg, he responded: “Everyone has a right to their opinion and I appreciate it, but we’re here to build a country we can be proud of — to get things done and to do it the united way.”
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