Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET
Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on ads during a 100-day presidential campaign, announced on Wednesday he’s suspending his bid and is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult.”
The decision follows a disappointing Super Tuesday for Bloomberg. He won just one contest: the small territory of American Samoa.
“After yesterday’s results,” he said in the statement, “the delegate math has become virtually impossible — and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists.”
Bloomberg threw his support behind Biden, who won most of the 14 states voting on Tuesday.
“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it,” Bloomberg said. “After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”
Bloomberg entered the presidential race late, formally jumping in in late November. He skipped the first four primary states to focus on Super Tuesday. He spent about a quarter of a billion dollars of his own money just on ads in the states voting Tuesday.
But those efforts didn’t bear fruit. The billionaire was able to have a real effect on the race, however. He briefly cracked double-digit national polling numbers and got on stage for two debates, thanks in part to his unprecedented spending.
By the time he exited the race, Bloomberg had spent more than half a billion dollars on television ads. That’s more than the Hillary Clinton and Trump campaigns spent on TV ads throughout the entirety of 2016, according to The New York Times.
While Bloomberg is out of the race, the gusher of money probably won’t stop.
Speaking Tuesday, campaign manager Kevin Sheekey reiterated Bloomberg’s commitment to continuing to spend resources this year to defeat Trump, even if the progressive Bernie Sanders wins the nomination.
“They agree on something that’s really important,” Sheekey said of Sanders, “which is this president has to be removed from office.”
Before the results came in, he added: “[W]e’ll find out whether Mike Bloomberg is on his way to becoming the candidate, or we will find out that Mike Bloomberg is going to be the most important person to whomever that candidate will be.”
Additionally, Bloomberg’s campaign has more than 2,000 people on staff who could transition to help the nominee, under Bloomberg’s direction.
Bloomberg is the second billionaire candidate to drop out, after Tom Steyer stepped away in late February.
Attacked from multiple angles
Bloomberg’s case for himself was based on the idea that he was best suited to beat Trump. In recent days, he touted his managerial expertise running New York City through a variety of crises and contrasted that to Trump’s leadership amid the coronavirus public health crisis.
Bloomberg’s criticism of the president often drew the ire of Trump, who began calling him “Mini Mike” on Twitter. The president has tweeted about Bloomberg more than 40 times this year.
On Wednesday morning, Trump chimed in again on Twitter, writing that he “could have told [Bloomberg] long ago that he didn’t have what it takes, and he would have saved himself a billion dollars.”
Trump added: “Now he will pour money into Sleepy Joe’s campaign, hoping to save face. It won’t work!”
Once Bloomberg’s poll numbers began creeping above 10%, he also began drawing the attention of other Democratic primary contenders. Some said he was trying to buy his way onto the debate stage and into the race.
During Bloomberg’s first debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren harshly criticized him over allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at his company and for signing legal settlements with female employees that required nondisclosure agreements.
On stage, Bloomberg said he wouldn’t release the women from the agreements. A few days later he changed course, saying he had “done a lot of reflecting on this issue.”
Bloomberg also struggled to respond to questions from rivals about the stop-and-frisk policies that police employed during his time as mayor of New York.
Those policies, which disproportionately targeted people of color, dogged Bloomberg throughout his campaign, chiefly because it took him so long to denounce them. The first time he distanced himself from the policies was November, according to PolitiFact, a week before his campaign launch.
NPR’s Susan Davis contributed to this story.