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Mike Bloomberg brings his campaign to Bernie Sanders' home turf

Bloomberg's shifting views on paid sick leave

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg brought his unorthodox campaign to Vermont on Monday, the home of his 2020 rival Bernie Sanders.

In his remarks to an audience of roughly 300 in Burlington, Bloomberg called on the Senate to remove President Trump from office. When asked why he would be the best candidate to defeat Mr. Trump should he remain in office, Bloomberg said that it was because he already knew how to defeat his fellow New Yorker.

"I know Donald Trump, I've campaigned against him on tobacco, on guns, on the environment, and every time I have won. And that's what you have to do to beat him. Also, I think that in terms of a lot of people who think this country should evolve rather than have a revolution, I would be their choice, and I'd be honored to serve," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg, a billionaire who is funding his campaign with his vast personal fortune, has eschewed competing in early states like Iowa in New Hampshire and is instead concentrating on the 14 states, including Vermont, that will hold their primaries on March 3rd, or "Super Tuesday."

Sanders has not been subtle in his criticisms of Bloomberg, whom he's accused of trying to "buy an election." But on Monday, Bloomberg largely avoided taking direct aim at the Vermont senator.

"I can't speak for the senator, I can only speak for myself," Bloomberg said. "I've had 12 years of experience in government. I've had many decades of experience in the business world, both domestically and internationally. I'm the kind of person that pulls teams together. I can attract the great, the best people. I can get them to work together, that — I've shown that again and again and again. That's what this country needs. It doesn't need a one-idea person. It's a job. We have to have a manager."

When asked if he thought Sanders was a "one-idea" person, Bloomberg demurred. "I didn't even mention his name. I think you have to ask Bernie what his ideas are. I'm not an expert on him any more than he's an expert on me."

While he's skipping the early states in the primary, Bloomberg said he would compete in them should he make it to the general election. "I will certainly campaign there when I'm running against Donald Trump in the general election, which I expect to do. But in the meantime, I'm gonna go and deal with all the other states and nobody is going to the other states except two people, myself and Donald Trump."

Bloomberg has decisively outspent Mr. Trump in battleground states since he entered the race for the Democratic nomination in November. He's also massively outspent his opponents for the Democratic nomination. Both Bloomberg and Mr. Trump have spent $10 million to buy 60-second commercials during the Super Bowl this weekend, which will be held one day before the Iowa caucuses.

One of the attendees at the event, Ken Russack of Burlington called Bloomberg, "a fiscal pragmatist" who knows how to govern. He noted that while Bloomberg entered the race late, "The strategy is win all, or not. That approach will be proven right." He shrugged. "Or wrong."

Another attendee, Janice Lara of Burlington, defended Sanders, saying he had "the money and the morals" while Bloomberg and fellow billionaire candidate Tom Steyer "just happen to have the money."

"It's time for new blood," Lara said.

With a visit to Maine later on Monday, Bloomberg has now visited every Super Tuesday state. The flight to Maine took him over New Hampshire, where the first-in-the-nation primary will be held February 11.

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