(JTA) — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said he would welcome the candidacy of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“I would love to have Michael get into the race. I would personally like to compete with Michael Bloomberg,” Trump told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in a phone interview Sunday morning.
“I think he might very well get in the race and I would love him to get into the race,” Trump said. “Michael has been a friend of mine over the years. Perhaps we’re not friends anymore. He has wanted to do this for a long time but he has never pulled the trigger.”
The New York Times on Saturday anonymously quoted aides and associates of Bloomberg, 73, a media magnate and three-term mayor, as saying he saw an opening in case Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., won the Republican and Democratic nominations, respectively.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Bloomberg, who has been an independent since 2007, commissioned a poll to test how he would fare in a presidential run. Bloomberg previously considered presidential runs, but had concluded that an independent’s chances are near zero.
Now, however, according to the Times, he feels that the prospect of Trump, a populist whose campaign has been fueled to a great degree by anti-immigrant rhetoric, facing off against Sanders, a social democrat who like Trump rails against the political establishment, could change that calculus.
Bloomberg, who is Jewish, has maintained close ties to Israel, making a last-minute visit to the country during its 2014 war with Hamas to show that travel was safe in the face of a brief Federal Aviation Authority ban.
Bloomberg made his fortune, now valued at approximately $40 billion, from the media and financial data company he founded, Bloomberg L.P. He has said he would be willing to spend $1 billion of his own money on a presidential run.