As his campaign for president takes off, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is facing renewed criticism this week for his decades-long habit of making offensive remarks about other people’s race, sex and gender identity. This includes revelations this week that as recently as last year he was comfortable referring to transgender people in pejorative terms.
They weren’t exactly the sort of remarks that go over well with the Democratic Party base that Bloomberg will need to win the party’s 2020 nomination – and, if he does, beat President Donald Trump. Of course, Trump has his own long and infamous history of making offensive remarks.
To be fair to Bloomberg, he has at least expressed regret about some of his past remarks and actions, which is not exactly Trump’s strong suit. Yet the two white, male, 70-something billionaires have nonetheless harbored similar attitudes over the years about people who are less powerful than them.
Don’t believe us? See if you can figure out which of the following statements were made by Bloomberg or Trump.
1. On making deals.
“Let me tell you something, buddy boy, I have pictures of you and they’re not with your wife.”
These remarks are attributed to Bloomberg in the “Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg,” which employees at his eponymous company compiled and presented to him as a gift.
2. On a business enterprise.
“It will do everything, including give you a blowjob. I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business.”
Bloomberg reportedly made this promise about his eponymous Bloomberg Terminal, according to the “Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg.”
3. On black people.
“You know, you don’t want to live with them either.”
This remark is attributed to Trump while giving a deposition in the early 1970s for a federal lawsuit alleging that he and his father had discriminated against black people who wanted to rent apartments. The Trumps eventually settled the case.
4. A female presidential candidate.
“I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”
This remark about Republican primary candidate Carly Fiorina is attributed to Trump in 2015. While Bloomberg appears to have stayed away from making sexist remarks about fellow presidential candidates, he is no stranger to crude comments about women in general.
5. On avoiding military service in the Vietnam War.
“I had a great agreement with the draft board … they never called me and I never called them.”
These remarks are attributed to Bloomberg in the “Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg.” Trump also secured several draft deferments to avoid service in Vietnam.
6. On black and Latino men.
“There’s this enormous cohort of black and Latino males aged, let’s say, 16 to 25 that don’t have jobs ... don’t know how to find jobs … don’t know how to behave in the workplace.”
This remark is attributed to Bloomberg in a 2011 interview with PBS NewsHour. Full quote: “There’s this enormous cohort of black and Latino males aged, let’s say, 16 to 25 that don’t have jobs, don’t have any prospects, don’t know how to find jobs, don’t know that the – what their skill sets are, don’t know how to behave in the workplace, where they have to work collaboratively and collectively.” Trump has more than his fair share of troubling statements about people of color.
7. On Trump.
Trick question. Both Bloomberg and the notoriously narcissistic president have described Trump in such terms. Bloomberg praised Trump after the 2016 election: "If you’ve sat and had dinner with Donald Trump, you’d probably walk away saying everything he just said is bullshit, he can’t be doing that. But you have a good time. He is socially a nice person. Will he be a good president? I hope so. Because we desperately need leadership in the country and the world.”
8. On a woman’s looks.
“This is someone who likes to eat.”
Trump said this to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado in 1997, the year after she won the competition.
9. On nondisclosure agreements.
“You can’t just walk away from it. They’re legal agreements, and for all I know the other side wouldn’t want to get out of it.”
Bloomberg said this to ABC News in 2020 when he pushed back at attacks from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren about past nondisclosure agreements Bloomberg’s company has arranged with female employees alleging discrimination. Trump also has a history of requiring employees to sign nondisclosure agreements, and has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women.
10. On the politics of transgender rights.
“If your conversation during a presidential election is about some guy wearing a dress ... that’s not a winning formula.”
Bloomberg made the remark at a 2019 forum hosted by the Bermuda Business Development Agency, where he spoke about Democratic candidates’ support for transgender rights. Full quote: “If your conversation during a presidential election is about some guy wearing a dress and whether he, she, or it can go to the locker room with their daughter, that’s not a winning formula for most people.” Trump has incurred the wrath of the LGBTQ community for a variety of policy reasons, including efforts to exclude transgender people from the military.
11. On a woman’s looks.
“Why didn’t they ask you to be in the picture? I guess they saw your face.”
Bloomberg reportedly said this to a female employee while getting his photo taken with business school students at New York University in 1995.
12. On how he is totally not sexist.
"Nobody has more respect for women than I do."
Trump said this many times, most notable in a debate after the “Access Hollywood” recording was released in which he infamously said, “Grab them by the pussy.” Bloomberg’s words have often been at odds with the technocratic image he tries to project, but he has avoided making this claim.
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