NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY/AP) – Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg campaigned in Norfolk Friday morning, getting an endorsement from a former Navy secretary who was fired for criticizing President Trump.
Bloomberg appeared at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center to call out President Donald Trump for, as he said, failing the nation’s veterans and military families.
Bloomberg touted his expertise in leading and, without naming names, compared his experience to other Democratic candidates.
“Most candidates don’t talk about these skills and qualifications because they don’t have them. They don’t have experience leading large organizations or making hard decisions,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg, a billionaire and former mayor of New York City, focused on the difference of leadership between Trump and himself, and shared his plans to support the military, veterans and their families.
Bloomberg talked about leadership and how to lead a large organization through a national crisis like 9/11.
“As mayor [of] New York City, I oversaw a workforce of 300,000 people. I was elected just weeks after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. People were still in mourning and the city was in tatters. Our economy was in recession… We turned it around,” he said.
“Many people thought our best days were behind us, but I am happy we came together, we consulted widely. We hired a diverse, talent[ed] and experienced staff, and we developed strategies to rebuild the city, and to also work to stop any future attacks,” he added.
Bloomberg was already a billionaire and successful businessman when he transitioned into political leadership.
Watch Bloomberg’s full speech above
In a one-on-one interview, he told 10 On Your Side the one thing he is most proud of.
“In three elections in New York City, I never took a dime from anybody, and I’m not going to in this election either.”
Bloomberg left his harshest jabs Friday for President Trump.
“Team-building, decision-making, and coordinating implementation; Our country today is not getting the executive leadership we need,” Bloomberg said, followed by loud applause. “We need steady and dependable leadership in the White House. We need leaders who will respect facts and data and accept advice.”
Bloomberg wasn’t done with the president.
“He seems to view the Republican Party as a cult that will defend what he does no matter how lawless or reckless,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg’s disdain for President Trump is well-known.
Bloomberg told WAVY News what he believes he needs to do to win: explain who he is the to public.
“It is for me to go out and keep going to as many cities and states as I can, whether they are big or small, whether they think they are in play or not,” he said.
Bloomberg is supported by former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who was fired by Trump after he opposed the president’s intervention into the discipline of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, whose acquittal of war crimes spurred national outcry.
“I have the utmost confidence that Mike will faithfully execute his duty as commander in chief,” Spencer said.
Spencer becomes the first Trump political appointee to back one of the president’s potential opponents.
Bloomberg has chosen to skip campaigning in the four early states of the presidential primary to instead focus on Virginia and other states that vote in the March 3 “Super Tuesday” contests, when the largest number of delegates are up for grabs.
It was Bloomberg’s fourth visit to Virginia since announcing his candidacy. The first stop of his Democratic campaign was in Norfolk back in November.
Bloomberg also spent millions in the General Assembly races last November. His big issues are reasonable gun control measures and a clean environment.
In order to get into debates and to get onto primary ballots, he needs to show viability, which he thinks he can.
“We have to have four polls that say we are above 10 percent, and we are way above that in our private polling. The problem is, I don’t know if any of the news organizations are going to do a poll, so we will see what happens,” he said.
During the event, Bloomberg also wasted no time calling out the president for what he calls his failing the nation’s veterans and military families.
“The president’s firing by Twitter and his wildest ranting on Twitter encapsulate the lack of discipline he brings to the job of commander in chief… When the commander in chief has no discipline, those who serve in the military are put at risk and we can not accept that,” Bloomberg said.
Because Hampton Roads is a military region, WAVY News asked Bloomberg if he’s elected what is his # 1 military priority,
“We have to be ahead in technology, so spending on research and spending on upgrading the fleets, and all of the things our sailors need when they go out there, and putting their lives on the line — that’s my priority,” he said.
Does Bloomberg believe President Trump is already doing that?
“What I can see, No, he doesn’t have a staff to do it because he keeps turning over people,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg’s visit comes a couple of days ahead of another stop in Virginia. The Mike Bloomberg 2020 multi-state bus tour on gun violence prevention began this week in Orlando, Florida, and will conclude Sunday in Arlington, Virginia. The tour features supporters, gun violence survivors, and elected officials.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League announced a protest of the campaign. The online event said the goal is to “tell Bloomberg that you support the Second Amendment.”