Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has drawn criticism for views he expressed during a speech he gave at Oxford in 2016. In a video which has recently resurfaced, Bloomberg can be heard describing a general transgender person as “a man wearing a dress.” He continues by referring to the attendees of the conference, including himself, as “the intelligentsia,” to compare them to “the vast bulk of people.”
The remarks were made as part of the “distinguished speaker series”, a set of lectures put together by the Said Business School. Responding to a question about how he would address the “fundamental divide” between the Brexit-voting and Remain-voting portions of the general public. Bloomberg asks the audience “I don’t know how many here are familiar with the bathroom issue in the United States? Anybody know what I’m talking about?”
He continues: “If you want to know if someone is a good salesman, give them the job of going to the Midwest, and picking a town, and selling to that town the concept that some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter. If you can sell that you can sell anything.”
To scattered laughter in the audience, he can then be heard to say “They just look at you and they say to you: ‘What on Earth are you talking about?’.”
Later in the speech, he comments on gender-segregation in the jail system in New York, where Bloomberg was Mayor for 12 years: “In our prison system in New York we have to have policy: when you walk in, drop your trousers, you go this way you go that way. That’s it.”
At another point during the speech, an audience member asks a question about the increasing divide between the “haves and the have-nots,” attributing the surging inequality with the rise of figures like Donald Trump. Michael Bloomberg responds by saying “I’m not sure you’re right. We have cut poverty in half in the last 40 years.”
Mr Bloomberg is currently in the process of contesting the Democratic primaries. This means that, if successful, he will represent the Democratic Party in the 2020 US Presidential election. The wealthy former mayor of New York has seen a dramatic increase in his polling recently to almost 14%, overtaking Elizabeth Warren.
Despite this, he has been criticised for a number of statements made in interviews and over tape recordings which have been described as racist. Most recently, Donald Trump shared a recording which appears to show Bloomberg say that most murderers and murder victims “fit one M.O. — you could just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 15 to 25 [years old].”
Trump posted the clip with the caption: “WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!”
Unusually, Mike Bloomberg is funding his entire campaign from his own money, spending more than $300 million on adverts, polling, and private jets since joining the race in November 2019.