Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former three-term mayor of New York City, has announced he will not mount a third-party White House bid that could have further upset this year's already extraordinarily unpredictable presidential campaign.
Bloomberg, who has spent months considering an independent campaign, made his decision official in an editorial posted by the Bloomberg View. In the editorial, he said he believes he could not win the election, and that there would be a good chance his candidacy could lead to the election of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump or Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
"That is not a risk I can take in good conscience," he added.
Bloomberg, the 74-year-old Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat-turned independent, lambasted Trump, saying, "He has run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears."
Conservative and Republican groups in the United States are mounting acerbic new television advertising campaigns to try to block billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump from capturing the party's 2016 presidential nomination.
In all, several anti-Trump organizations say they plan to spend at least $10 million in the next week on the ads. Many of them are aimed at voters in the southeastern state of Florida and the Midwestern state of Illinois, two big states where Republicans are holding March 15 party nominating elections and political surveys show Trump with leads over his remaining three opponents.
The ads characterize Trump as a liberal out of touch with the dominant conservative character of the Republican Party, a military draft dodger, and a tycoon with little empathy for the powerless who have stood in the path of his business empire.
Club for Growth Action — a conservative, anti-tax organization — has one ad running in Florida, saying Trump "hides behind bankruptcy laws to duck paying his bills and kill American jobs. He even tried to kick an elderly widow out of her home through eminent domain. Real tough guy."
Another group, American Future Fund, called Trump a draft dodger who has disparaged American prisoners-of-war captured by the North Vietnamese more than four decades ago and "hasn't served his country a day in his life. Donald Trump is a phony. Stop him now."
FILE - Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a sign from the audience as he speaks to supporters at a Super Tuesday campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky, March 1, 2016.
Trump, a one-time television reality show host who has never held elective office, is the front-runner in the chase to win the party's presidential nomination, although his closest challenger, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, has edged closer to Trump in the delegate count after splitting contests with him in four states Saturday.
GOP sees big risks with Trump
Influential figures in the Republican Party — including its losing 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney — are trying to block Trump's unexpected, months-long surge to the top of the Republican field, fearing that he would lose November's national election to the leading Democratic candidate — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — and possibly imperil Republican control of Congress.
In an odd twist of fortune for the party, not all anti-Trump activists are enamored with Cruz, a conservative agitator in the halls of Congress who at various times has aimed his barbs at both Republican and Democratic leaders.
Cruz, however, has emerged as perhaps the best, last alternative to Trump, and the new ads have only one target: the 69-year-old Trump.
"The momentum is shifting away from Donald Trump," said Club for Growth chief David McIntosh. "Overwhelming wins by Senator Ted Cruz in Kansas and Maine, and a delegate tie in Louisiana, showed that Republican voters don't want a big-government liberal like Donald Trump at the top of the [Republican] ticket. They know that Trump would cost Republicans the White House, the Senate majority and, ultimately, the Supreme Court."
FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addresses the crowd during an election night watch party in Stafford, Texas, March 1, 2016.
A Supreme Court vacancy exists because of the death last month of Justice Antonin Scalia, for 30 years a conservative stalwart on the country's highest court. U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is planning to name a replacement soon, but Republicans say they expect to block the nomination in hopes of leaving the choice to the next president.
Numbers, hopes for upcoming contests
So far, Republicans have been apportioning convention delegates based on the vote totals in the 20 states that have held nominating contests. Michigan, a large Midwestern state that votes Tuesday, will apportion its convention delegates based on the vote count there; but both Florida and the Midwestern state of Ohio have winner-take-all contests on March 15, even as Illinois splits its delegates the same day.
Two other Republican presidential contenders, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich, say they expect to win their respective states, but political surveys show Trump with a substantial lead for the cache of 99 convention delegates in Florida and a small edge for Ohio's 66. Cruz says he plans to campaign in Florida in the coming days to try to upset both Trump and Rubio.
Trump is calling for Rubio, who has won only two nominating contests so far, to drop out of the presidential campaign, a demand Rubio has rebuffed. Both Trump and Cruz say they want the race to be narrowed to a contest between just the two of them.