Bloomberg talks of 'healing' nation at OKC rally

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg places a wreath in front of the Field of Empty Chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, before his rally in Oklahoma City. 

OKLAHOMA CITY — Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg roused a room full of Democrats as he shared how he would heal a "fractured nation" and get the country "back on track" during a campaign stop Saturday in Oklahoma City.

Approximately 700 people squeezed into the Oklahoma History Center's atrium as they waited for Bloomberg and Judge Judy Sheindlin, known for her long-running TV show.

Bloomberg was met with raucous applause as he took the stage. For several minutes Bloomberg took aim at President Trump, who he said has made Democrats and their policies “look bad” since he spends most of his time attacking the party.

Trump's criticism of the Democratic party did not stop Bloomberg from helping flip Republican seats in the House to Democrat in 2018, “and I'm ready to do it again,” he said. Bloomberg spent close to $100 million supporting House Democratic candidates in 2018 races, according to Fortune.

Bloomberg promised the crowd he will be a president who will advocate against racial inequality by making “sure the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) not just survive but grow.”

He also promised to develop policies that would help minority business owners.

Bloomberg hinted at climate change, an issue about which he has been outspoken on the campaign trail.

“He [Trump] divides people. I unite them. And I actually believe in science, imagine that?”

Health care, immigration and gender and sexual orientation discrimination were among the issues he mentioned before lauding his track record as New York City mayor for three consecutive terms beginning in 2002.

“I don't just talk about things,” he said. “I have a record of reaching across the aisle and getting things done.”

He took credit for teacher pay increasing by 43%, graduation rates rising by 40%, slashing the uninsured rate by 40% and reducing the city's carbon footprint by 13%.

Bloomberg closed his speech by asking for Oklahomans' vote.

“I've taken on Donald Trump and I've won every time,” he said.

The evening was not without dissenters. A man with a few people trailing behind him shouted, "Trump 2020, Trump 2020!" and was escorted out by event security.

Others in the crowd were undecided on if they would vote for Bloomberg.

"Labor is a very important issue to me,” said Brian Davis of Oklahoma City. “I'm a lifetime union member and I'm impressed by how [Bloomberg's] handled that. Biggest thing as I try to decide who I'm going to support, is who is going to lead us further away from the fear, the hatred, and divisiveness that has infected our dialogue for years, for decades really. President Trump is not up to that task. I haven't decided if I'm voting for Bloomberg yet.”

Sandy Aker of Guthrie isn't sure either, and for her there's one issue she said Bloomberg has been silent about.

“I really like what he has to say, but I haven't heard one word about foreign policy,” she said.

Aker is worried about the state of America's political relationships abroad which she believes Trump has threatened by his rhetoric. “He's power hungry and just says whatever he thinks.”

Aker approved of Bloomberg's gun control policy, which Bloomberg calls his gun safety plan. Aker is torn between Warren and Bloomberg.

“She has more good sense,” Aker said. “And she's down-to-earth, too.”

Despite the doubters in the room, a charged crowd whooped and yelled in unison when Trump was described as a bully and a tyrant.

“I like Mike, I like Mike,” many chanted before and during the rally.

Sheindlin said she usually stays out of politics, but when she saw a headline with a quote from Bloomberg she asked him to run for president.

“It said, 'Democracy requires discomfort. Rage is destroying us.' It's author was Michael Bloomberg,” she said.

Sheindlin said she was concerned because America has changed from the one she used to know.

“I've come to see an America that's been fractured, a family that used to come together in the face of both good times and tragedies as a family....not being able to have a civilized conversation at a Thanksgiving dinner or a high school or college reunion.”

Wood writes for The Norman Transcript, a CNHI LLC publication.

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