Michael Bloomberg has formally launched his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination – calling Donald Trump an “existential threat” to the United States.
The former New York City mayor’s decision ends weeks of speculation about whether he would be a late entry in the already crowded race to become the person who takes on the Republican president next year.
The move marks a U-turn for the 77-year-old billionaire, who had said back in March he would not run for the White House.
Launching his 2020 bid on Sunday, Mr Bloomberg, who is one of America’s richest men, said: “We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions.
“He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage.”
The media tycoon, who reportedly has a fortune of $53.4bn (£41.6bn), added: “I believe my unique set of experiences in business, government, and philanthropy will enable me to win and lead.
“As a candidate, I’ll rally a broad and diverse coalition of Americans to win. And as president, I have the skills to fix what is broken in our great nation. And there is a lot broken.”
He claimed the economy was “tilted against most Americans”, the healthcare system “cost too much and does not cover everyone”, communities were “ravaged by gun violence”, schools were not preparing children for success, the immigration system was “cruel and dysfunctional”, and the climate crisis was getting “worse by the day”.
Mr Bloomberg has spent $31m (£24m) on a TV advert for his campaign which focuses on his record as New York City’s mayor.
The ad, which is being broadcast across several states, says he promises “to rebuild the country and restore faith in the dream that defines us: where the wealthy will pay more in taxes and the middle class get their fair share”.
It adds: “Everyone without health insurance can get it and everyone who likes theirs, keep it; where jobs won’t just help you get by but get ahead. And on all those things, Mike Bloomberg intends to make good.”
Mr Bloomberg will face tough competition, including from former vice president Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend in Indiana.
The billionaire businessman will vie with them to become the moderate alternative to the liberal agendas of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Mr Bloomberg has been critical of Ms Warren, an anti-Wall Street campaigner who plans to tax the super wealthy to pay for her proposals of universal healthcare and free college tuition.
He has already come under fire from liberal critics who say he would be the wrong choice for a Democrat Party turning against corporate money in politics and dedicated to ending income inequality in America.
The other contenders’ campaigns have already been running for months.
In an unusual move, Mr Bloomberg plans to skip the four states with early nominating contests in February in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, and focus primarily on the states that hold primaries and caucuses starting on so-called Super Tuesday on 3 March.
No winning presidential contender has ever opted for a similar strategy.
The tycoon co-founded financial information and media company Bloomberg LP in 1981, and he owns 88% of the business, according to Forbes.