By Briana Brady, Opinion Editor–
If you haven’t already heard, on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg paid a visit to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center in Chattanooga, TN. Although I am by no means a decided Bloomberg supporter and take serious issue with the ramifications of his stop-and-frisk policies, redlining comments, etc., I felt that it was important to attend the event in part because of the rarity of a Presidential candidate coming to Chattanooga, and also to become more informed about his candidacy as a whole.
Everything at the Bloomberg event was unorganized to begin with, from crowd-control, to line formation, to ticketing and check in. And further, the overflow crowd at the rally was so large that Bloomberg’s event start time was delayed so that he could address those attendees who were not able to secure a spot in the standing-room-only main hall. During this time, I was asked to take part in an interview with Don Gonyea from NPR, which for me was definitely the coolest part of the day.
As Bloomberg was being introduced by the local campaign coordinator, a Sanders supporter obviously dissatisfied with Bloomberg’s billionaire status marched onto the stage and yelled “This is not democracy. This is plutocracy!” The response from police was relatively slow, and the campaign (as well as the crowd) was seemingly taken aback by the woman’s ability to so easily get on stage. Following that scene, Elenora Woods, President of the Chattanooga NAACP chapter, came on stage to endorse and welcome Bloomberg, and it was obvious that she was not only supportive of him and his campaign, but enthusiastic about it. Finally, at almost 2:30, Bloomberg came out and focused the large majority of his time on Trump, and specifically, what separated him from Trump.
Going so far as to call himself the “un-Trump,” Bloomberg remarked upon pointed differences between himself and the President. Compare and contrast phrases like “He breaks promises, I keep them” and “He looks out for people who inherited their wealth, I’m self-made” were frequent; and his line “I can go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump” occurred with even greater frequency.
I liked his intentions of speaking messages of Democratic unity, but lines like “I’d never run away from a fight” and “We don’t need revolution, we want evolution” somewhat undermined the overall effect I believe he intended to have. Additionally, while I respect his commitment to supporting in full whomever the Democratic nominee is, I was unimpressed by his lack of discussion of policy plans and specifics about his past actions as mayor and beyond.
Overall, I’m glad I went. I got to see a Presidential candidate, in my hometown, in an up-close and relatively personal way. However, nothing about the event persuaded me to commit to voting for him yet. I have a lot of deciding to do in the next couple of weeks.