Fearing Trump presidency, Bloomberg drops independent bid

Washington, March 8 (IANS) With Donald Trump going strong in Republican primaries, New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped the idea of an independent run fearing it may help the Republican presidential frontrunner win.

“When I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win,” wrote Bloomberg who had floated the idea of an independent 2016 campaign — particularly if Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders were the two major-party nominees.

“I believe I could win a number of diverse states — but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency,” he wrote in a blog post Monday.

“There is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience,” Bloomberg wrote.

Trump is hoping to expand his lead while Hillary Clinton will try to block Bernie Sanders from winning his first big state Tuesday when Michigan and Mississippi go to the polls. Republicans will also square off in Idaho and Hawaii.

Tuesday’s biggest prize is Michigan with 59 Republican delegates and 148 Democratic ones up for grabs.

The delegates will be awarded proportionately, meaning a candidate can still pick up delegates if they finish in second or even third place, as long as they meet certain thresholds.

The latest polls from Michigan show Trump and Clinton have double-digit leads over their competitors.

Trump is getting 41 percent from likely primary voters, followed by Cruz at 22 percent, Florida senator Marco Rubio at 17 percent and Ohio governor John Kasich at 13 percent.

Trump was leading the Republican pack among every demographic group – men, women, Republicans, independents, moderates and conservatives.

Upset over Trump’s rise Republican leaders and donors have arrived at a consensus at private conclaves that a steady blitz of attacks could puncture Trump’s support and force a contested convention, the Washington Post reported.

But the slow-bleed strategy is risky and hinges on the primaries in Florida, Illinois and Ohio, it said.

Meanwhile, CNN citing sources said a battle was being waged within Rubio’s campaign about whether he should even remain in the Republican presidential race ahead of his home state primary on March 15.

Rubio himself is “bullish” on his odds of winning the critical primary, despite some advisers who are less hopeful and believe a loss there would damage him politically in both the short- and long-term, it said.

Among Democrats in Michigan, Clinton leads Sanders 57 percent to 40 percent. She is leading among African Americans, those 45 and older, women, men and whites. Sanders leads among independents and those younger than 45 years old.

Clinton and Sanders, meanwhile, laid out some of their key differences Monday in a Fox News Channel town hall event in Michigan with Sanders hammering his message of economic equality and prosperity.

Clinton claimed neither she nor her lawyers have been informed that any members of her staff or former staff are targets of an FBI investigation, which focuses on her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Clinton also stood by the decision, as part of the Obama administration, to remove Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Clinton also offered her answer to Sanders’ popular free-tuition college proposal, unveiling the outlines of a plan in which students will no longer have to borrow money to attend a public college or university

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