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Bloomberg Hits Trail In Virginia, Says Fighting Gun Violence Central To His Campaign

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- On Monday, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his first presidential campaign stop in Virginia.

On Sunday, he formally announced his bid and rolled out a multi-million dollar ad campaign.

Bloomberg is hoping his record speaks for itself when courting voters. On Monday, he did not provide any more details about his policies, but shared that fighting gun violence would be central to his campaign.

But more than anything, he said he believes he's the most likely to stand a chance in beating President Donald Trump in 2020, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

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Bloomberg's first stop as a newly announced Democratic presidential hopeful was at a diner in Norfolk.

Michael Bloomberg
Newly announced Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks during a press conference on Nov. 25, 2019 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"He could have just been the middle class kid who made good, but Mike Bloomberg became the guy who did good," one of his television ads says.

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Overnight, Bloomberg launched a record-breaking $34 million ad campaign in 46 states. He touted his success in business, leadership after 9/11 and his philanthropic endeavors as reasons that best position him to beat the other New Yorker, Trump.

"I know what it takes to beat Trump because I already have and I'll do it again. Defeating Trump and rebuilding America is the most urgent and important fight of our lives," Bloomberg said.

Earlier this month, the president said he welcomed the challenge.

"Little Michael will fail. He'll spend a lot of money. He's got some really big issues," Trump said.

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But first the billionaire businessman has to make it through the primaries. The first few contests he'll miss. Instead, he's focusing on "Super Tuesday," when a quarter of the primary votes are at stake.

There has been mixed reaction from his opponents.

"It does not mean billionaires buying elections or just because they are billionaires thinking they can run for president," Sen. Bernie Sanders said.

"Come on, I welcome the competition," former Vice President Joe Biden said.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg ruled out a presidential run, saying it would split the votes for Biden who was ahead at the time in the polls. But now, Biden is in a dead heat with other candidates.

On Monday, Bloomberg was asked about his change of heart.

"I think that there is a greater risk of having Donald Trump re-elected than there was before. In the end, I looked in the mirror and said I just cannot let this happen," Bloomberg said.

And Bloomberg is putting his money where his mouth is, and is not accepting any donations for his presidential campaign.

Since Bloomberg is funding his campaign, under the rules he will not qualify for the debates. Unless that changes, Bloomberg said he'll take his message straight to the voters.

His next stop will be Phoenix, Arizona.

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