Mike Bloomberg, who has been moving toward a presidential run but not yet announced his formal plans, has "made a decision to serve his country," former treasury secretary Hank Paulson said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing on Thursday.
"My good friend Mike Bloomberg asked my good friend Henry Kissinger and me to represent him here today because ... he's made a decision to serve his country," said Paulson, who served at the end of George W. Bush's presidency.
The forum, which Bloomberg was originally slated to attend but backed out of at the last minute, is an exclusive gathering at a resort north of Beijing. Paulson was preceded by Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan.
The forum represents the limping globalist wing of the global political conversation — the presence of both Paulson, a former Goldman Sachs CEO, and Kissinger, a former secretary of state, spoke to that. Wang, echoing the themes of the conference, warned against the threats of protectionism, unilateralism, and populism.
On a panel on "staving off class warfare," Bloomberg's adviser and wealth manager Steven Rattner argued that the government's top priority should be "addressing the state of the average worker." If they don't, "we are going to have populism, it's going to take down capitalism, and it's all going to be worse off," he said.
Bloomberg had said earlier this year that he would not run for president but has recently begun shifting that position. He's filed for the primary ballot in several states and is readying a giant anti-Trump ad campaign paid for with his massive personal fortune. That fortune would make him a force in the presidential race: He's a new kind of rich, able to drop unheard-of sums of his own money into the race without feeling it.
Bloomberg also appears to be avoiding the mistakes of the former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who joined the Democratic primary by attacking other Democratic candidates, which did not make him popular with Democratic voters. Aides to Bloomberg, by contrast, say he will focus his expensive early efforts on advertising and voter registration campaigns against Trump.
Matt Berman reported from New York; Ben Smith reported from Beijing.