(JTA) – Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed he is considering entering the 2016 U.S. presidential race.
Bloomberg, a billionaire media magnate who served three terms in New York, for the first time said he was seriously thinking about throwing his hat in the ring, he told the Financial Times in an interview published on its website Monday evening, hours before the first U.S. primary election in New Hampshire.
Bloomberg, who is Jewish, criticized the quality of the debate in the race and said he was “looking into all options” when asked about entering the race. He said the U.S. public deserves “a lot better.”
“I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” he told the Financial Times.
Bloomberg, 73, was mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013. He was a Democrat until his first run, in 2001, when unable to secure the party’s nomination, he became a Republican. He became an independent in 2007.
Early last month it was revealed that Bloomberg commissioned a poll to test how he would fare in a presidential run. Bloomberg previously considered presidential runs, but had concluded then that an independent’s chances are near zero.
Bloomberg would consider spending up to $1 billion of his own money on a run, The New York Times reported last month in an article in which anonymously quoted aides and associates of Bloomberg said he saw an opening in case Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Republican and Democratic nominations, respectively.
Bloomberg has maintained close ties to Israel, making a last-minute visit to the country during its 2014 war with Hamas to show that travel was safe in the face of a brief Federal Aviation Authority ban.
He won the inaugural $1 million Genesis Generation Challenge in 2014, a prize awarded for “engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and/or the State of Israel.” His charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has provided $1.5 million to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in urban innovation grants.
Bloomberg made his fortune, now valued at approximately $40 billion, from the media and financial data company he founded, Bloomberg L.P.