Breed Defends Endorsing Bloomberg for President: 'I Don't Take the Easy Route'

San Francisco Mayor London Breed spoke to reporters about her endorsement of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on Jan. 23, 2020. (Marco Siler-Gonzales/KQED)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed's backing of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's presidential campaign may have caused some to do a double take.

As in, "She endorsed who?"

"I know that it may come as a surprise to a lot of people," Breed told reporters after an event Thursday morning where she appeared defensive about her decision.

"But, you know, the easy thing would have been to stay out," she said. "I don't take the easy route. I do sometimes what may be hard or unpopular to do for the right reasons."

Breed, the city's first female African American mayor, had previously endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris of California. But when Harris dropped out, she left a lot of politicos in California with empty dance cards.

Breed said she thought "long and hard" before endorsing Bloomberg, saying what was ultimately most important to her is beating President Trump, which she thinks he can do.

"That's really important to me — I want real change. I don't want the politics. I don't want the drama," Breed said. "[Bloomberg] has a strong desire and the commitment which he's demonstrated to make real change."

Asked about her endorsing a candidate who does not represent the party's diversity, Breed pushed back.

"I've had conversations with him about what he's going to do for the country as a whole, the challenges that still persist in the African American community around income inequality, the criminal justice system and a number of other issues," she said.

Sponsored

Bloomberg has something else going for him, not just with Breed, but other mayors across the nation.

His philanthropic work includes funding the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which nurtures mayors from around the world, providing assistance with executive training, strategic thinking and help on policy issues. Breed was part of the 2019 class.

In addition, Bloomberg's foundation has assisted the San Francisco Mayor's Office in developing policies around homelessness, which remains a huge problem in the city.

"No one's perfect. No one's going to completely solve any one issue. But I think he has the heart. He has a spirit," Breed said.

Bloomberg has also spent tens of millions of dollars in local elections on soda tax, environmental policy, gun control and anti-smoking initiatives.

Last year, Bloomberg's financial support was critical in defeating Proposition C, which e-cigarette maker Juul placed on the San Francisco ballot to overturn the city's ban on e-cigarette sales. Before backing away from its own measure, Juul spent more than $11 million in support of Proposition C. Voters eventually rejected it overwhelmingly.

Breed follows San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs in endorsing the New York billionaire, who says he'll spend whatever it takes to defeat Trump.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles have endorsed Joe Biden.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told KQED's Forum Thursday morning that she will not make an endorsement in the primary.

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