One septuagenarian New Yorker is a “5’4″ mass of dead energy.” The other septuagenarian New Yorker is a “carnival barking clown.” Both are hoping to be president next year.
The sniping between President Donald Trump and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg started on Twitter but spilled into real life during a campaign stop in North Carolina.
Neither man seemed wary of reducing their political sparring to insults about appearance, height or intelligence levels. It was a good indication of sourness to come as Trump eyes Bloomberg’s rise in Democratic primary polls.
The incumbent initiated the insult volleys on Thursday morning, retweeting an altered image of Bloomberg that made him look shorter than a large stack of papers.
“Mini Mike Bloomberg is a LOSER who has money but can’t debate and has zero presence, you will see,” Trump wrote, comparing his potential rival to another onetime Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, who he also once accused of lacking energy.
He followed up, calling Bloomberg a “5’4″ mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians.” (Bloomberg is 5 foot 7, according to his medical records).
“No boxes please,” Trump went on, alluding to his unfounded claim a week ago that Bloomberg might request a platform to enhance his height during debates.
On his Twitter a short time later, Bloomberg wrote back.
“We know many of the same people in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown,” he said. “They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence.”
He extended the insults during a campaign stop in Greensboro, North Carolina, a few hours later.
“Donald, where I come from we measure your height from the neck up,” he said. “I am not afraid of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is afraid of us and that’s why he keeps tweeting all the time. If he doesn’t mention you, you’ve got a big problem.”
Bloomberg is hardly the first rival to attempt matching Trump’s penchant for insults. Other have floundered, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, who claimed Trump had small hands.
But Bloomberg’s self-funded campaign and blanket television and radio advertisements have captured Trump’s attention, even as the onetime mayor has yet to win any delegates. He skipped the traditional early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, choosing to focus instead on the upcoming Super Tuesday contests.
Trump claims Bloomberg would be an easy candidate to beat and says he’s eager to run against him. They are longtime acquaintances who sometimes golfed together and whose daughters appeared together in a reality show about being children of billionaires.
Privately, Trump has fumed at Bloomberg’s ubiquitous ads, including a spot that aired during the Super Bowl, competing with Trump’s own campaign commercial. Bloomberg’s ads have attacked the President for his temperament and divisiveness.
Trump latched onto recently released audio from 2015 of Bloomberg defending stop-and-frisk police policy, declaring on Twitter “WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!” despite supporting the policy himself.
Later he deleted the tweet — “It was pretty nasty,” he said, “I’m looking to bring the country together not divide it further” — but claimed he wouldn’t have apologized for stop and frisk the way Bloomberg has.
“I watched him pander at a church and practically begged for forgiveness. I wouldn’t have begged for forgiveness,” he said.