Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) has confirmed to The Financial Times that he's considering a 2016 presidential run.
Bloomberg's confirmation comes after a report last month in The New York Times that cited sources close to the billionaire who said he had asked his advisers to come up with a plan for what a theoretical third-party campaign would look like.
He told the FT that he is "looking at all the options" and that he's "listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing."
"I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters," Bloomberg told the publication.
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Bloomberg has considered running in the past but opted against a run. But with the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, he appears to be more seriously considering entering the fray.
The 73-year-old Bloomberg has reportedly said that he would be willing to spend $1 billion of his own money on a run for the White House, according to The New York Times. Bloomberg will reportedly decide on whether to go ahead with a campaign by early March. Any later entry might make it impossible for him to get on the ballot as an independent candidate in all 50 states.
A source familiar with Bloomberg's thinking told Business Insider in October that Bloomberg might run if he "sees a highly flawed field of candidates emerge." The sources said that if Trump looks set to take the Republican nomination and Sanders is primed to win the Democratic nomination, then Bloomberg would run. The Times added Saturday that Bloomberg would be likely to run in the event that Cruz wins the GOP nomination.
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Bloomberg, a Democrat turned Republican turned independent, would likely try to carve a path up the middle to counter Trump's popularity with the far right and Sanders' with the far left.
Veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz said last month that a Bloomberg entry could "quite literally turn this election upside down." But Luntz sees a good opportunity for Bloomberg.
"There's more than a political lane available to the former mayor; it's an interstate highway," Luntz wrote in a memo.
A nationwide poll of 900 likely voters conducted by his firm, Luntz Global Partners, found that 29 percent of Americans would support Bloomberg in a theoretical three-way race between the former mayor, GOP front-runner Donald Trump, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Trump would receive 37 percent of the vote, while Clinton would emerge with 33 percent.
In a three-way race with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Clinton, Bloomberg would receive 28 percent of the vote. Clinton, meanwhile, would come out on top with 37 percent while Cruz would take 34 percent.
Sanders and Trump are currently leading the polls in New Hampshire, the first primary state, and Sanders very narrowly lost the first-caucus state of Iowa to Clinton.
Allan Smith contributed to this report.
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