Former New York mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg spoke at the U.N. climate summit Tuesday, saying he came to the climate talks because “no one from the White House” was there. The event was billed as a media opportunity, but Bloomberg refused to answer questions from the press. Bloomberg entered the presidential race in November and has since spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on the race. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman followed Bloomberg through the conference venue, asking how he would address issues of inequality and whether his strategy to win the presidency was to outspend all his rivals. Bloomberg refused to answer all questions, and Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg’s presidential campaign manager, claimed the billionaire was not there “as a candidate.”
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from inside the United Nations Climate Change Conference here in Madrid, Spain. The media advisory came in yesterday: Former New York City mayor, current 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg would be speaking at 4 p.m. Madrid time at the U.S. Climate Action Center here inside the U.N. climate summit. Also speaking would be actor Harrison Ford and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and others in the, well, hashtag #WereStillIn delegation — the lawmakers, mayors, business leaders who are here to say that although the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris accords, they’re still committed.
Throughout the climate conference, the delegation has been speaking and taking questions from the press. So we packed up our gear and headed to Bloomberg’s news availability, to the news conference. This would be our chance to get a question in to the 2020 presidential hopeful. When we arrived, the pavilion was mobbed with press. We got in; many didn’t. Harrison Ford addressed the packed room of reporters.
HARRISON FORD: We know the facts. What we need now is the courage to act. In 2017, my country’s federal government demonstrated a lack of courage, threatening to pull out of the Paris Agreement. And if we don’t elect new leadership, they’re going to continue to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Bloomberg was among the last in the pavilion to speak.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: The reason that I am here in Madrid is really very simple. I am here because no one from the White House is here. … We’re looking forward to this November’s election and a new president in 2020. We have to have America as part of the solution.
AMY GOODMAN: To our surprise, as soon as Mayor Bloomberg wrapped up his comments, he was surrounded by security and walked out of the room without taking any questions. We followed him.
AMY GOODMAN: Mr. Bloomberg, are you taking questions from the press?
AIDE 1: Not right now. Thank you so much.
AMY GOODMAN: Mayor Bloomberg, will you be taking questions from the press?
AIDE 1: Not right now. Thank you so much.
AMY GOODMAN: They told us this was a news conference with Mayor Bloomberg. Mr. Mayor, the U.N. has said that — Mr. Mayor, the — if you could just answer a question? We all packed in there to ask you questions.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Careful. You’re going to trip.
AMY GOODMAN: No, it’s OK. I’m from New York. I’ve followed you for a long time. But the U.N. has said that economic and climate inequality is driving protests around the world. You’re a billionaire running for president. You’ve spent tens of millions more dollars than the other presidential candidates. Will that be your strategy to win the presidency?
KEVIN SHEEKEY: We’re here to talk about climate this week. We’re not taking questions about —
AMY GOODMAN: Yeah, I said the U.N. said that climate inequality —
KEVIN SHEEKEY: I understand. No, I understand. I understand the question. It was about politics.
AMY GOODMAN: But he can answer for himself.
KEVIN SHEEKEY: He can. But I’m telling you that we’re only here to talk about climate.
AMY GOODMAN: The mayor can answer for himself.
KEVIN SHEEKEY: No, no, but he’s not traveling as a candidate. So, here’s part of the reason why we’re here, and it’s really important for the context of the event.
AMY GOODMAN: But it’s —
KEVIN SHEEKEY: We’re here to talk about climate. He’s here to talk about the [inaudible] —
AMY GOODMAN: And he referred to President Trump, and I think this is a very relevant question.
KEVIN SHEEKEY: I appreciate it. I know.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m sure he has a great answer.
KEVIN SHEEKEY: Thank you for your question. Thank you for your question.
AMY GOODMAN: Mr. Mayor, can you answer for yourself?
KEVIN SHEEKEY: It’s actually important for the event. And they’ve actually asked us, beyond stuff like that, not to take political questions.
AMY GOODMAN: But I think it’s very important. These protests around the world are around climate and economic inequality. Mr. Bloomberg is running —
KEVIN SHEEKEY: Who are you? Who are you with?
AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman with Democracy Now!
KEVIN SHEEKEY: Oh, nice.
AMY GOODMAN: I know you all guys know. You will.
KEVIN SHEEKEY: Nice. Hi. My name’s Kevin Sheekey.
AMY GOODMAN: Hi.
KEVIN SHEEKEY: Nice to see you.
AMY GOODMAN: Nice to see you. Mr. Mayor, can you respond to the question? We were told this was a news conference. That’s why so many reporters packed in.
KEVIN SHEEKEY: OK, well, that’s not why we talked. Thank you.
AIDE 2: Thank you, miss.
AMY GOODMAN: Mr. Mayor, how do you think that these global protests around inequality should be addressed? Mr. Mayor, how do you think these global protests against inequality should be addressed? If you answer it, I’ll stop asking. Mr. Mayor, how do you think these global protests against inequality should be addressed?
AIDE 3: This is a — this is a secure zone, right? Miss, this is a secure —
AMY GOODMAN: You don’t just slam me against the wall.
AIDE 3: Yeah, but this is a secure zone.
SECURITY GUARD: Yes.
AIDE 3: You’re not allowed to come back here.
SECURITY GUARD: No, you are. You’re [inaudible].
AMY GOODMAN: So, we went to this event that Mayor Bloomberg was speaking at, that was billed as a press conference. Many press packed into the room. We listened to Mayor Bloomberg talk about climate crisis. And we all had questions.
And my question to him was: In light of the global protests that are taking place — the U.N. says these protests are being driven by inequality, and both economic and climate inequality — as a billionaire who is running for president, how does he address that issue? When he ran for mayor three times, he spent more than $250 million of his own money. At the time, it was more than any official in U.S. history, any politician in U.S. history. Now he’s entered the presidential race. He has spent $90 million on ads, $20 million than any other presidential candidate. Is this his strategy, I wanted to ask him, for winning the presidency?
I tried to ask the question. The police slammed me against the wall. The mayor was right there, within a few feet of me. He could have answered at any point.
One of his spokespeople said he’s not here to talk about running for president. And yet he talked about President Trump and the fact that the U.S. is being pulled out of the U.N. climate summit. I think it’s a very fair question in light of what’s happening here in Madrid and what’s happening around the world. We tried our best. He was silent for a long time. I was walking pretty much at his side. So we’ll try again another time. But Mayor Bloomberg should be willing to answer questions, not call a news conference and then not answer questions when the press packs in.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that was 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg refusing to answer questions after speaking to a packed room of reporters here at the U.N. climate summit. The man who was running interference for him, Kevin Sheekey, is in fact Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign manager. Sheekey told us Bloomberg is here at the COP not as a candidate and that they made a deal not to address these kinds of issues. Later that night, we watched Bloomberg on an extensive interview on CNN from the U.N. Climate Conference with Christiane Amanpour, where he did in fact talk all about the 2020 presidential race and President Trump.
So, that does it for this segment of the program. When we come back, wildfires are devastating Australia. The world governments’ failure to meet the Paris climate agreement will be next on our agenda. Stay with us.