One day after the tumultuous Iowa caucuses produced no clear winner, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg campaigned in Philadelphia and claimed his executive experience makes him the most qualified Democrat in the 2020 race.
Nearly 2,000 attendees gathered at the National Constitutional Center on Tuesday evening to hear Bloomberg stress his determination to beat 1968 Wharton graduate and current President Donald Trump. Despite the strong attendance, few Penn students attended the campaign rally near the Liberty Bell.
“This election is a referendum on our Constitution, and the values that define it and the meaning of America,” Bloomberg said. “That’s why I entered this race. So let me be clear, I am running to defeat Donald Trump.”
While supporters continuously shouted Bloomberg's campaign slogan – “I like Mike” – the former mayor played up his New York City accomplishments. Bloomberg said he is a qualified candidate because of his record of raising public school teachers' salaries and increasing the number of insured citizens.
Several of Bloomberg's most notable supporters – including former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter – also spoke on his behalf.
While most of the crowd was made up of older Philadelphia residents, a number of students from local universities were also present.
College senior Josh Charap was one of them. While he said he is not sure who he will be voting for in the Democratic primary yet, Charap predicts that Bloomberg might struggle to find support with younger voters.
“The crowd was definitely mostly white, older men,” Charap said. “Though that might be the function of a Tuesday night rally, he’s definitely going to have some trouble on college campuses, where a lot of people are supporting the idealists – [like] Bernie, Warren – versus him, who’s more of a pragmatist.”
College sophomore and President of Penn Democrats, Owen Voutsinas-Klose, also attended the rally.
Though Voutsinas-Klose supports some of Bloomberg’s policies, the former mayor is not his first choice candidate. Still, Voutsinas-Klose said he was grateful to attend the event and see a presidential candidate speak in person.
“I’m a New Yorker, and I really respect him – he’s everything Trump is not,” Voutsinas-Klose said. “He’s a huge philanthropist. When he was running the city, he was really focused on reducing crime, protecting the environment, providing healthcare.”
Along with his rally in the historic heart of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Bloomberg has plans to expand his presence statewide. Bloomberg is reportedly set to open new Pennsylvania offices within the next few weeks – adding to his current offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg – with several new locations including Greensburg, West Chester, Media, Bucks County, and Ardmore.
Despite the lack of college students at Bloomberg's event, Penn students still played a small role in entertaining the crowd. In the middle of the event, Penn's all-male acapella group Pennchants performed pop songs "Havana" by Camilla Cabello and "Jealous" by Nick Jonas.
Voutsinas-Klose said he was able to meet Bloomberg at a small reception before the rally because of his involvement in Penn Dems. He added that many of the other campaigns have reached out to the club, including that of former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Andrew Yang.
“It just goes to show that the campaigns are not taking Penn students votes for granted," Voutsinas-Klose said.