In an indication of how exactly the race for the Democratic nomination to the president is shaping up, newly declared candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — and, until recently, ardent defender of the racist “Stop and Frisk” policing tactic — has already leapfrogged New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker in the latest polls.
The development was important to note because it seemed to underscore the emphasis the Democratic primary process puts on funding to maintain a competitive standing among candidates, a policy being blamed on the pale, mostly male slate of presidential candidates. As Bloomberg, a billionaire, bankrolls his campaign without losing a wink of sleep, Booker has been forced to make a direct appeal to voters for their financial support in order to qualify for debates and keep his campaign afloat.
But the latest Harvard-Harris poll, released Monday morning, also brought attention to how much Bloomberg has apparently instantly resonated with voters despite the “Stop and Frisk” policy’s deeply hurtful legacy among Black and brown New Yorkers.
Bloomberg’s sincerity surrounding his approach on race following his forced apologies for “Stop and Frisk” was called into question after he regurgitated a tired, racist trope about Booker last week.
To be fair, Bloomberg doesn’t enjoy the same polling prestige if you factor in the potential candidacies of former secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. But still, the poll was released on the heels of a back-and-forth between Bloomberg and Booker, a Black politician who has been amplifying his rhetoric against a primary process that he has said makes it tougher for candidates of color.
Most recently Booker took umbrage with Bloomberg’s use of a racist trope to describe the senator from New Jersey. In a CBS interview on Friday, Gayle King spoke with Bloomberg about Booker’s recent comments about how the primary process enables the prospects of not having a single candidate of color participating in the upcoming Democratic debates. Instead, billionaires like Tom Steyer — he whose campaign stole Kamala Harris‘ voter data — and Bloomberg will make it to the stage. Bloomberg responded to these comments by telling King that “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.”
Bloomberg received immediate backlash from folks who were tired of white people noting that a Black person is “well spoken.”
This is not the first time a well-known white politician has called a Black politician “well spoken” or something similar. Even presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden, called Barack Obama “articulate” and “clean” back in 2007 as if it was a surprise that a Black man could be all these things.
In that same interview with King on Friday, Bloomberg openly lied that “nobody asked me about it until I started running for president” before he went on to offer what came across as a hollow apology before trying to deflect attention.
“Looking back, made a mistake, I’m sorry, I apologize,” Bloomberg said without a hint of regret or empathy in his voice for those who have been affected by “stop and frisk.”
Despite the racist clichés and open lies, Bloomberg still was able to secure a polling position much higher than Booker, who’s made a name for himself on the campaign trail championing issues that affect the everyday citizen.
This is America.