Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at RCSI opening

Businessman-turned-politician says future president needs skills to get elected and govern

Michael Bloomberg, right, pictured at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland meeting Dermot Desmond and Prof John Hyland, president of the RCSI. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Michael Bloomberg, right, pictured at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland meeting Dermot Desmond and Prof John Hyland, president of the RCSI. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

 

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said he hopes a candidate will emerge two years from now with the skills both to get elected US president and to govern.

Speaking at the opening of a new €80 million Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin, the businessman-turned-politician shared his philosophies on government, success in the corporate and political worlds and the successful candidate to be the next US president in a wide-ranging public interview.

“If you only have the skills to govern, we never find that out. If you only have the skills to get elected . . . I can give you many examples of that by the way,” he said, to laughs from a packed audience.

He lamented the fact that the US has not had presidents “for a while that have management experience”.

Before Mr Bloomberg officially opened 26 York Street, the college’s new medical education building on its campus at St Stephen’s Green, Minister for Education Richard Bruton said that the new facility would be “beacon for education and training throughout the world”.

Mr Bloomberg, a three-term mayor, was speaking as a World Health Organisation global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases, tackling preventable illnesses through his philanthropic foundation that gave away $700 million last year in the fight against obesity and tobacco and opioid addiction among other areas.

Possible candidate

Frequently mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, the billionaire dismissed a suggestion in his interview with broadcaster Pat Kenny that he could have beaten Mr Trump in 2016.

“You can’t win as an independent,” he said.

US president Donald Trump, whom Mr Bloomberg campaigned against in favour of Mr Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, featured prominently in his remarks.

Mr Bloomberg recalled the only time he has spoken to Mr Trump since his election – “he let it be known he wanted to get a call from me, so fine, I call him” – and the advice he gave his fellow New Yorker.

“Go out and get the smartest people; get people who are smarter than you are,” he told Mr Trump. “And he informed me that there was nobody that fit that bill,” Mr Bloomberg added.

He blamed the bitter partisanship in US politics on “better transport and communications” that means Republicans and Democrats do not spend as much time in Washington and so do not build relationships.

“We really haven’t had a president in a while who tried to pull together both sides of the aisle,” he said.

Reverse position

Mr Bloomberg is still holding out hope that Mr Trump might reverse position on his support for guns, coal-burning and trade tariffs, and on his withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement.

“If he would change his mind on some of the other things, then I would be the first one to stand up and say, ‘congratulations, thank you, it is good to see you on the right side of history,’” he said.

He made his remarks in the packed underground Desmond Auditorium in 26 York Street, named after businessman Dermot Desmond, the campaign chairman of RCSI who was in attendance at the event.