Bloomberg mulls presidential run

MANCHESTER – As newspapers trumpet the “battle of the billionaires,” Michael Bloomberg stuck to what’s at the top of his agenda Tuesday morning in a speech at Saint Anselm College: climate change.

The three-term former mayor of New York City and CEO of Bloomberg L.P. is exploring once again the idea of running for president, as a Democrat, and this week criticized former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s potential independent candidacy.

Before a packed audience at the college’s New Hampshire Institute for Politics, Bloomberg discussed his ongoing efforts to close coal-fired power plants in the battle against climate change.

Fighting climate change he called “one of the best ways to save lives, cut pollution and grow the economy.

“In New York, we cut our carbon footprint,” increased life expectancy by three years and added thousands of new jobs, he said. He said this shows the nation does not have to choose between a vibrant economy and a healthy environment.

As NYC mayor, Bloomberg was widely know for his public health measures, including a smoking ban in bars and restaurants several years ago.

“I got a lot of one-finger waves at parades,” he said.

However, since then, many governments have adopted smoking restrictions, and they’ve helped food and beverage businesses, whose employees could be healthier.

Climate change is accelerating faster than expected, according to Bloomberg. He said this can be seen in hurricanes in the South, wildfires in California, droughts in the Midwest and the ticks that are killing baby moose, he said.

“Businesses of every kind are facing potential disruption,” he said, taking aim at the president. “Donald Trump has failed at business, and now, no doubt, he is failing at government.”

Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown and 50 businesses across the country are part of a coalition pledging to keep America in line with the Paris climate agreement’s carbon limits, which should be “the bare minimum,” he said. “What’s happening (to the planet) is really scary,” and there is no doubt that replacing coal with clean energy is a good idea.

“Coal miners helped make us an industrial powerhouse,” Bloomberg said, yet the Senate failed to fund help for miners stricken with black lung disease and tried to cut funding for education programs that would help displaced miners find good jobs.

“Technology and automation replaced most of the coal jobs,” Bloomberg said, “Miners need more investment in their communities … We need to pull together and help people who don’t have the skills for today’s jobs … we can’t continue leaving people behind.”

The proposed economic stimulus program called the “Green New Deal,” he said, should be at the top of the Democrat’s platform and it should start with investment in coal regions, “which would spread economic benefits to all of us, and that was the lesson of the “Yellow Vests,” whose protests disrupted life in Paris.

Bloomberg also touched briefly on his support for “common-sense” gun laws, infrastructure investment and making college affordable.

He called the recent partial government shutdown a sign of “utter failure of leadership” that will harm Americans well into the future.

During the question and answer session, a New England College student asked whether Bloomberg’s concern for the environment is reflected in his lifestyle. He did not directly answer the question.

Bloomberg also did not talk with people face-to-face after his speech and left quickly. The breakfast gathering was one of Saint Anselm’s Book Mark series, and his book “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses and Citizens Can Save the Planet,” was stacked on the tables for people to take.

On Tuesday morning the Republican National Committee sent out a statement regarding Bloomberg’s visit to New Hampshire, calling him “just another delusional Democrat mulling a bid for what will be a circus of a 2020 presidential primary. It called his “agenda of gun control and climate control” out of touch.

Kathy Cleveland may be reached at 673-3100, or at kcleveland@cabinet.com.