Former three-term mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg said Monday he will not run for president, after months of speculation that he would jump in as in independent during a campaign in which it seems anything could happen.
In a column on his opinion site Bloomberg View, he said looking at the data made it "clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win." He added that he feared his running could split votes enough to give Donald Trump or Ted Cruz an advantage.
Bloomberg writes that he believes he could have won a number of states but that ultimately the race could come down to three people in the general election, none of whom would get enough electoral votes to win the presidency. That would put the onus on the Republican-controlled Congress and, as Bloomberg writes, "out of the hands of the American people."
"As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz," he said. "That is not a risk I can take in good conscience."
Bloomberg wrote a searing critique of Trump, saying he has "run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people's prejudices and fears." In particular, he hit Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the country, and called Sen. Cruz's "pandering on immigration ... no less extreme" than Trump's.
Bloomberg said he had given "serious consideration" to running. The New York Times reported that he had "quietly laid groundwork" for a campaign including a network of "several dozen strategists and staff members," and had conducted polling and even produced TV ads and set up campaign offices.
He said the decision not to run comes despite the fact that he has "always been drawn to impossible challenges."
"All of us have an obligation as voters to stand up on behalf of ideas and principles that, as Lincoln said, represent 'the last best hope of Earth,'" he continued. "I hope and pray I'm doing that."