Mike Bloomberg says he's not just another billionaire running for president. In an exclusive interview with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King, Bloomberg, the other Democratic candidates including former Vice President Joe Biden, his own complicated history on the issue of race and policing, and why he chose to enter the campaign so late.
We spoke to Bloomberg Thursday in Aurora, Colorado, where he was talking about one of his signature issues, gun violence.
On Joe Biden: "I'm not trying to take his job...I'm trying to take away the job from Donald Trump"
GAYLE KING: I want to talk about you getting in the race, because when you were on "CBS This Morning" in September –
KING Sept. 10: Are you sitting here going, I wish I had done it?
MIKE BLOOMBERG: No, I never think back. There was not a road for me when Joe was in the race to get through because we would have split the votes.
KING: What happened between September and now?
BLOOMBERG: I looked at our national government getting worse, the way we're behaving overseas and domestically, led by our president. I said back in 2016, "He is the wrong person for the job. He doesn't have the temperament or the ethics or the intellect to do the job." And I said, "We just can't have another four years of this." And then I watched all the candidates. And I just thought to myself, "Donald Trump would eat 'em up."
KING: You think all the candidates who are running today, he would eat them up?
BLOOMBERG: Let me rephrase it. I think that I would do the best job of competing with him and beating him.
KING: One of the other things you said in September was that Joe Biden is a friend. Did you talk to Joe Biden ahead of time and say, "I'm getting in."
BLOOMBERG: No, I did not. His staff certainly knew.
KING: Do you still consider him a friend?
BLOOMBERG: Yeah, sure, why would he not be?
KING: I don't know. I'm thinking with friends like you, who needs enemies?
BLOOMBERG: You are friendly with other great TV presenters in the morning.
KING: Yes, yeah.
BLOOMBERG: And you're all competing for the same get--
KING: But I'm not trying to--
BLOOMBERG: --all competing for the same job.
KING: --take their job.
BLOOMBERG: Well, I'm not trying to take his job either. He doesn't have the job of president of the United States and neither do I. At the moment, the person that has it is Donald Trump. I'm trying to take away the job from Donald Trump.
"It takes an ego to think that you could do the job"
KING: Nobody's saying, "Mayor Bloomberg, meh." They either say, "Oh, thank God he's getting in. Thank God. Now I know who I'm gonna vote for." Or I hear, "What the hell is he thinking?" Is this a big ego stroke? How do you respond to both of those?
BLOOMBERG: The second one, I have the same rights as anybody else. Does it take an ego? Yeah, I guess it takes an ego to think that you could do the job. I have 12 years of experience in City Hall. And I think if you go back today and ask most people about those 12 years, they would say that the-- not me, but the team that I put together made an enormous difference in New York City. And New York City benefited from it and continues to benefit from it today from what we did then.
On stop and frisk: "I'm sorry. I apologize."
KING: Stop and frisk. You recently apologized for that. Some people are suspicious of the timing of your apology.
BLOOMBERG: The mark of an intelligent, competent person is when they make a mistake, they have the guts to stand up and say, "I made a mistake. I'm sorry."
KING: We don't question your belief that you made a mistake. I think the question is the timing that you realized you made the mistake.
BLOOMBERG: Well, nobody asked me about it until I started running for president. So come on.
KING: Are you saying to people that you realized you had made this mistake before, but you just didn't mention it until now?
BLOOMBERG: I think we were overzealous at the time to do it. Our intent was to do anything we could to stop-- the-- carnage, the murder rate. And what was surprising is when we stopped doing it a little bit, we thought crime would go up. It didn't. It went down. So, you know, should have, would have, and could have. I can't help that. But looking back, made a mistake. I'm sorry. I apologize. Let's go fight the NRA and find other ways to stop the-- murders, and incarceration-- Those are things that I'm committed to do. And-- the more I do that, the better off everybody is.
On candidates' diversity: "Don't complain to me that you're not in the race"
KING: The next debate is December and Cory Booker-- said that it could possibly be on that debate stage no one of color. There would be more billionaires in the race than black people. Is that a problem to you?
BLOOMBERG: Well, Cory Booker endorsed me a number of times. And I endorsed Cory Booker a number of times. He's very well-spoken. He's got some good ideas. It would be better the more diverse any group is. But the public is out there picking and choosing and narrowing down this field. The truth of the matter is you had a lot of diversity in the candidates, some of whom were very competent. Why they aren't there as you narrowed it down, I-- you have to talk to other people who are experts. I don't know.
KING: Part of the conversation is, "Here we go, another old, white, gentleman." Isn't it time for change? Isn't it time for--
BLOOMBERG: But-- but there--
KING: --something new?
BLOOMBERG: --the-- yes, it may be. But lots of people can enter. There was no reason-- if you wanted to enter and run for president of the United States, you could have done that. But don't complain to me that you're not in the race. It was up to you. And I thought there was a lot of diversity in the group of Democratic aspirants. Entry is not a barrier.
KING: So you're saying if you want diversity then get in?
BLOOMBERG: That is exactly a good way to phrase it. Thank you very much.
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