Bloomberg says contested convention 'only way I can win'

MIAMI (AP) — Mike Bloomberg acknowledged Tuesday he’s aiming for what some Democrats say would be the party’s worst nightmare: A contested convention.

“It’s the only way I can win,” he told reporters during a campaign stop at one of his field offices in Miami.

The businessman is competing for votes in the primary for the first time Tuesday, when 14 states go to the polls — though in a possible indication of his expectations for the day, Florida, where Bloomberg campaigned Tuesday, is not one of them.

Bloomberg entered the race last November when Joe Biden was lagging in the polls, and skipped the first four primary states in favor of attempting to pick up enough delegates to stand as the moderate alternative to Bernie Sanders, who has emerged as the front-runner in the race.

Bloomberg has argued he’s the only candidate who can beat President Donald Trump in the general election.

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El precandidato presidencial Mike Bloomberg habla durante un evento de campaña en Hardywood Park Craft Brewery en Richmond, Virginia, el sábado 15 de febrero de 2020. (James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch vía AP)
A Mike Bloomberg supporter holds up a sign as protesters gather outside Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, where Democratic presidential candidate Bloomberg was speaking during a campaign event at the brewery in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is joined on stage by supporters during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, is introduced by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg greets former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Purdue as he arrives to speak at a campaign event in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg arrives to speak at a campaign event in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Mike Bloomberg 2020 election campaign logo, graphic element on white
Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Purdue addresses the crowd before introducing Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to speak at a campaign event in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to a crowd at Footnote cafe in Winston Salem, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. This is the first day of early voting in North Carolina. (Walt Unks/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to supporters during his visit in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record via AP)
People lineup outside of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg Mike Bloomberg, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, signs autographs as Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, right, joins him onstage at a campaign event Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Campaign worker Wendell McCoy hands out signs at a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to supporters Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg addresses supporters during a campaign stop in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to reporters after a campaign event, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A supporter of Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wears an "I Like Mike" button during a campaign event, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, speaks to State Rep. Samuel Young, center, and State Rep. Daniel Noyes at Kestral Coffee Roasters, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, with Portland, Maine Mayor Kate Snyder, center, greets a patron at Becky's Diner, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the ​U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Michael Bloomberg hablando en un acto en Tulsa, Oklahoma, el 19 de enero del 2020. Bloomberg se postuló a la nominación presidencial demócrata y realiza una campaña poco ortodoxa, ignorando a sus rivales en las primarias y apuntando todos sus cañones a Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, left, talks with Rev. Robert Turner, right, during a service at the Vernon American Methodist Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Okla., Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to supporters Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to supporters Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic Presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg waits to speaks during a rally Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks with supporters at the Bounce Innovation Hub, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Democratic presidential candidate, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, walks upstairs at a coffee shop in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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But Biden, who’s seen a surge in endorsements, fundraising and attention after his resounding South Carolina primary win, looks poised to regain the moderate mantle heading into Super Tuesday after two other moderate candidates, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, dropped out and endorsed Biden. Some Democrats have called on Bloomberg to drop out of the race, worried that his presence will only draw support away from Biden and all but ensure a messy convention fight.

Asked about the prospect he’s taking Biden’s support, Bloomberg bristled, interrupting the reporter to declare: “Joe’s taking votes away from me. Have you asked Joe when he’s going to drop out?”

But Bloomberg himself seemed to acknowledge the political headwinds he faces on Super Tuesday, when asked what states he needs to win to consider the day a success.

“I don’t know whether you gotta win any. You don’t have to win states, you have to win delegates,” he said. The businessman suggested no one would come out of the primary with a majority of the delegates, and “then you go to a convention, and then we’ll see what happens.”

It was the first time Bloomberg’s taken questions from the press in weeks, and the back-and-forth became testy at times, with Bloomberg at one point admonishing a reporter when pressed: “Are you going to ask, or are you going to give a lecture?”

Bloomberg has been a sharp critic of Sanders, and on Tuesday both he and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, one of Bloomberg’s campaign co-chairs, laced into the Vermont senator for his embrace of socialism and praise of socialist dictators. The two spent the morning campaigning in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, which is home to much of the city’s large Cuban population.

“Perhaps you should look into the eyes of the people of Little Havana and explain your naive and misguided conclusion that Castro has transformed Cuba,” Diaz said. “A man who praises tyrants — the worst of us — cannot claim to speak for the best of us.”

Bloomberg also echoed criticism from other Democrats of Sanders’ recent praise of Castro, charging that the party won’t be able to win the perennial swing state “with a candidate who sings the praises of Fidel Castro and downplays the atrocities committed in Cuba.”

“The senator’s comments will be toxic for Democrats up and down the ballot in November,” he said.

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