NEW YORK • Former New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg said he will not enter the 2016 presidential campaign because a three-way race could lead to the election of a candidate who would endanger the country: Mr Donald Trump.
He said Mr Trump had run "the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people's prejudices and fears".
Mr Bloomberg, 74, who for months quietly laid the groundwork to run as an independent, said he was alarmed by Mr Trump's threats to bar Muslim immigrants from entering the country and to initiate trade wars against China and Japan. He was also disturbed by his "feigning ignorance of white supremacists", alluding to Mr Trump's initial refusal to disavow support from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
"These moves would divide us at home and compromise our moral leadership around the world," the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP said on Monday. "The end result would be to embolden our enemies, threaten the security of our allies, and put our own men and women in uniform at greater risk," he wrote in a column on Bloomberg View.
He said his entry could benefit Mr Trump by creating an unresolved election that would ultimately be decided by the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives.
His decision ends months of intensive preparation for a candidacy. "Over the last several months, many Americans have urged me to run for president as an independent, and some who don't like the current candidates have said it is my patriotic duty to do so.
"I appreciate their appeals, and I have given the question serious consideration... But when I look at the data, it's clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win," he said.
Had both Mr Trump and Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders appeared headed for victory in the primaries, Mr Bloomberg was determined to run, according to his advisers.
NEW YORK TIMES, BLOOMBERG