At the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the crowd loooooved Mayor Mike's bare-knuckled speech. His best bits were not only the applause lines they were carefully engineered to be, but laugh lines. Across the four nights of the Republican National Convention I sat through in Cleveland last week, and the three nights so far of the DNC in Philly, this is the one speech that's elicited the most LOLs. People around me kept on leaping to their feet to applaud while laughing and saying "Burn!"
"Trump says he wants to run our nation like he runs his business?," Bloomberg said at one point, waiting a beat to deliver the punchline: "God help us."
Though Bloomberg is a well-known business, media and political brand name, it's unclear to me how familiar average Americans are with the man himself. A Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent who has a certain nanny-state mentality (he famously wanted to ban the sale of sodas in jumbo cups to keep me and my fellow New Yorkers from drinking too many sugary-sweet calories in one sitting) and an elitist streak, despite having a (fading) Boston accent. The National Review once called him a "prissy little autocrat."
And remember, he's a Wall Street guy -- before starting his Bloomberg data-terminal business to serve up trading data, he was at Salomon Brothers -- and Hillary's chumminess with Wall Street is one of her Achilles heels. As Ad Age Editor Ken Wheaton tweeted when the word first broke that Bloomberg would be endorsing Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia,
Trump: Clinton is a tool of Wall Street! Bloomberg: Let me "help" by endorsing her. Dems doing their best to turn off Bernie voters.— Ken Wheaton (@kenwheaton) July 24, 2016
But it turns out the endorsement was almost an afterthought -- and came with a caveat: "I know Hillary Clinton is not flawless; no candidate is." Bloomberg made it clear he was not so much choosing Hillary but not choosing Donald Trump: "No matter what you may think about her politics or her record," he said, "Hillary Clinton understands that this is not reality television; this is reality. She understands the job of president. It involves finding solutions, not pointing fingers, and offering hope, not stoking fear."
"Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice, and we can't afford to make that choice," Bloomberg added. To the delight of the crowd, he got personal, too: "I built a business, and I didn't start it with a million-dollar check from my father."
And he even went off-script: "Let's elect a sane, competent person," he urged the crowd and viewers at home, in an apparent ad-lib that didn't appear in the official transcript of his speech released by the DNC.
The Wells Fargo Center, which has been uncomfortably crowded from Day 1, seemed filled beyond capacity on Wednesday. Essentially every seat in the house was taken, all the way up to the rafters, and even a cordoned-off section of seats behind the stage and the big screen started to fill up, because people had nowhere else to sit.
The Democratic faithful were here mostly for Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. (VP nominee Tim "Suburban Dad" Kaine mostly held his own -- though his Donald Trump impression leaves a lot to be desired.) Both the prez and his "brother" (as Obama called Biden) delivered, as expected, powerful, personal speeches -- and the well-oiled convention machine was at the ready to make the adoring crowd look as telegenic as possible. Volunteers roamed every inch of the arena handing out signs for the audience to wave for the cameras. The "Joe" sign for Biden and the "Thank you" sign for Obama seemed to be the most coveted.
Truth be told, after Bloomberg's speech, I wanted a "Mike" sign, but there were none to be had. So I simply sipped from a modestly sized bottle of calorie-free water to toast Bloomberg, the badass billionaire.