Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump: Frenemies no more

Former mayor and GOP presidential candidate trade barbs

Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg
Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg

Former mayor Michael Bloomberg spared no words Wednesday when referring to Donald Trump as insane, reckless and even a con man. Nor did the GOP presidential candidate hold back Thursday when referring to Bloomberg as a “very little guy.”

Despite the recent vitriol, the frenemies have basically co-existed until now.

Although both are New York billionaires, they largely traveled in different circles, according to the New York Times. Bloomberg is a known philanthropist, while Trump has a reputation for being stingier with his giving. Bloomberg made his fortune in finance and technology, while Trump’s money comes from real estate, casinos and reality television. Trumps loves to show off his latest toys, while Bloomberg is relatively quiet about his fortune.

“I’ve been by Mike’s side for 19 years, and I’ve never met Donald Trump,”  Bloomberg advisor Kevin Sheekey said. “Trump hasn’t been part of the business, political or charitable community since the Koch administration.”

Of course, the two men have crossed paths over the years. In 2007, they played golf together at a charity event held at Trump National Golf Club, where Trump and Bloomberg were part of a foursome with comedian Billy Crystal and former Yankees manager Joe Torre. In 2004 and 2008, Bloomberg appeared on “The Apprentice” to show support for the produced-in-New York show.

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And over the years, Trump has taken to Twitter — a choice bullhorn during his current campaign for president — to praise the former mayor. “Mike Bloomberg is doing a great job as mayor of New York City,” Trump wrote in 2007.

The current presidential race has changed all that, however.

Bloomberg, who considered his own bid as an independent, ultimately said he would not run because he feared his third-party candidacy would indirectly help Trump. “Hillary has some baggage, but Trump is crazy,” said Sheekey, who was involved in Bloomberg’s decision.

Potentially smarting from that move, Trump speculated during a January interview with CNN that Bloomberg’s net worth was inflated. “We used to be friends,” he said. “I guess we’re not friends anymore.”

On Wednesday, Bloomberg unleashed a stronger attack. “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business,” the former mayor said Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. “God help us.” He added: “I’m a New Yorker and New Yorkers know a con when we see one.”

A furious Trump countered on Thursday — referring to Bloomberg as a “very little guy” — during a rally in Iowa. “I was going to hit one guy in particular, a very little guy,” he said. “I was going to hit this guy so hard his head would spin, he wouldn’t know what the hell happened.” [NYT]E.B. Solomont