Fmr. Bloomberg Campaign Manager Breaks Down 2020 Strategy

November 26, 2019

Bradley Tusk, Founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings, led Michael Bloomberg's winning mayoral campaign in 2009. He joins Cheddar to discuss Bloomberg's political strategy in the 2020 presidential race.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

MALE_1: Yeah.

FEMALE_1: Well, at his first speech as

FEMALE_1: a presidential candidate on Monday,

FEMALE_1: Michael Bloomberg touted his ability

FEMALE_1: to win elections and says

FEMALE_1: his political accomplishments make

FEMALE_1: him the best fit for presidency.

FEMALE_1: But the three term New York City mayor is making

FEMALE_1: headlines with his campaign spending, which, by the way,

FEMALE_1: already topping more than most in

FEMALE_1: almost all of his opponents at 35 million with

FEMALE_1: plans to spend up to 100 million on

FEMALE_1: digital campaigns for anti-Trump ads

FEMALE_1: and for his own campaign as well.

FEMALE_1: Bradley Tusk is the founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings.

FEMALE_1: He's also a former

FEMALE_1: campaign manager for Michael Bloomberg,

FEMALE_1: especially for that third mayoral run.

FEMALE_1: Great to have you [OVERLAPPING] today.

Bradley Tusk: Thanks for having me.

FEMALE_1: So, um, of course, um,

FEMALE_1: big news with Bloomberg now

FEMALE_1: officially entering this race with

FEMALE_1: this high amount of spending that he is

FEMALE_1: planning to put into his campaign.

FEMALE_1: Do the other candidates really stand a chance?

Bradley Tusk: I mean, I would love to say no,

Bradley Tusk: because that would be great for us.

Bradley Tusk: I think, realistically speaking, uh, you know,

Bradley Tusk: Mike is trying to do something very

Bradley Tusk: hard and very unconventional.

Bradley Tusk: Coming to the race late,

Bradley Tusk: he's coming into the race without

Bradley Tusk: choosing to compete in the first four primaries,

Bradley Tusk: which traditionally is never done.

Bradley Tusk: Um, and look, he is a billionaire at

Bradley Tusk: a time where at least the loudest voices in the party,

Bradley Tusk: you kind pf say they hate capitalism and

Bradley Tusk: money and billionaires and everything else.

Bradley Tusk: So we've got our work cut out for us.

Bradley Tusk: But at the same time, he's got a great track record.

Bradley Tusk: We have the resources to make our case,

Bradley Tusk: and when you ask who's best off of

Bradley Tusk: beating Trump in November, that's Mike.

MALE_1: Uh, Bradley, I think you can provide

MALE_1: some incredible insight for us on this.

MALE_1: No doubt this is the first time

MALE_1: a presidential candidate that's running for

MALE_1: president also owns a giant media conglomerate as well.

MALE_1: Uh, definitely making reporters lives a little bit more

MALE_1: difficult at Bloomberg with the new policy changes there.

MALE_1: Brian Stelter at CNN,

MALE_1: even went it- went as so far to say that

MALE_1: a Bloomberg reporter said that this is

MALE_1: everybody's nightmare come true.

MALE_1: [LAUGHTER] But this isn't the first time that Bloomberg

Bradley Tusk: Right.

MALE_1: Has had to deal with this.

Bradley Tusk: Correct.

MALE_1: So going back to when he was mayor,

MALE_1: how do you feel like the network was

MALE_1: able to handle that delicate balance?

Bradley Tusk: It's, it's funny, I think everyone,

Bradley Tusk: depending what side you're on, is a little disgruntled.

Bradley Tusk: As, as his campaign manager,

Bradley Tusk: so responsible for his politics,

Bradley Tusk: I was upset that we had a Bloomberg news reporter

Bradley Tusk: at City Hall that was attacking him all the time.

Bradley Tusk: What I'm saying, he's on the payroll.

Bradley Tusk: Why are we letting this happen?

Bradley Tusk: But Mike said, I believe in the First Amendment

Bradley Tusk: and he has the right to do it. I'm gonna let him do it.

Bradley Tusk: So, you know, obviously, it's a tough balance,

Bradley Tusk: and running for president is so much bigger than

Bradley Tusk: being mayor of New York City, as big as that is.

Bradley Tusk: But I do know that for

Bradley Tusk: 12 years you had this brilliant crush,

Bradley Tusk: the pain in the ass guy, Henry Goldman,

Bradley Tusk: who is the Bloomberg news reporter at City Hall,

Bradley Tusk: who gave Mike as hard of a time as the times

Bradley Tusk: were opposed to daily news or anyone else.

MALE_1: Right.

Bradley Tusk: And Mike was happy to have.

MALE_1: So do you feel like the strategy that

MALE_1: the network is doing so far with

MALE_1: him is the best bad option?

Bradley Tusk: Yeah, I think so. Look, as you said,

Bradley Tusk: this hasn't happened before. right?

MALE_1: Right.

Bradley Tusk: So we don't entirely know.

Bradley Tusk: There's lots of things that

Bradley Tusk: are different in Mike Bloomberg.

Bradley Tusk: Everything he's ever done in his career

Bradley Tusk: has been doing it differently

Bradley Tusk: and being the first to do it.

Bradley Tusk: So when he created Bloomberg LP

Bradley Tusk: for a lot who's watching this right now,

Bradley Tusk: have a terminal on their desk.

Bradley Tusk: You know, first major

Bradley Tusk: information trying to look for finance.

Bradley Tusk: When he ran for mayor, you'd never had

Bradley Tusk: someone coming totally out of the private sector before,

Bradley Tusk: worked out three internal business successful.

Bradley Tusk: Taking on coal, taking on cigarettes, taking on guns.

Bradley Tusk: You know, Mike has always succeeded

Bradley Tusk: by doing things his way.

Bradley Tusk: And we're trying one more time.

FEMALE_1: I wanna go back to the amount of

FEMALE_1: money he's spending and his strategy for

FEMALE_1: the campaign specifically because we are looking at

FEMALE_1: a Silicon Valley that has been

FEMALE_1: absolutely scrutinized this year.

FEMALE_1: Google has said they are not going to be doing political,

FEMALE_1: uh, ad targeting as much.

FEMALE_1: Twitter is pulling back,

FEMALE_1: Facebook really the only platform

FEMALE_1: out there still allowing sort of this to happen.

FEMALE_1: Explain me the scenario that's going to maybe play out,

FEMALE_1: especially given that there is, again,

FEMALE_1: so much scrutiny around

FEMALE_1: political advertising on Facebook.

Bradley Tusk: Within paid media, there's really

Bradley Tusk: two big forums for advertising.

Bradley Tusk: One is television, um,

Bradley Tusk: that's been traditional conventional, we'll keep going.

Bradley Tusk: And the second is digital, right.

Bradley Tusk: So clearly, Twitter was never

Bradley Tusk: really a big platform anyway for it,

Bradley Tusk: um, depending on the changes.

Bradley Tusk: Google makes that kind of limitation on the spend.

Bradley Tusk: And we'll see what Facebook does,

Bradley Tusk: you know, putting my Bloomberg hat aside,

Bradley Tusk: I think Facebook would be crazy not to ban

Bradley Tusk: political ads because I don't

Bradley Tusk: really see how they can possibly win that game.

Bradley Tusk: But, but overall, for Mike,

Bradley Tusk: I think partly what is betting on,

Bradley Tusk: he's got a great story to tell

Bradley Tusk: and if you've seen the bio ad,

Bradley Tusk: but it's someone who's achieved a lot, and whether it's,

Bradley Tusk: ah, online or on TV,

Bradley Tusk: he's going to make the case and hopefully that works.

FEMALE_1: So what do you think Facebook should do?

FEMALE_1: Because I think what I just heard is that,

FEMALE_1: you believe they ought to

Bradley Tusk: Yeah.

FEMALE_1: The- they- so where did candidates go?

Bradley Tusk: You know, at the end of the day, quite frankly,

Bradley Tusk: the candidates' problems are not really

Bradley Tusk: the voters problem or the

Bradley Tusk: public's problem or Facebook's problem.

Bradley Tusk: It seems to me that all Facebook's problems are

Bradley Tusk: basically around the fact that they

Bradley Tusk: make politicians really mad.

Bradley Tusk: And the reason they make them really mad is,

Bradley Tusk: no matter what side you're on,

Bradley Tusk: you feel like you're unfairly talked about,

Bradley Tusk: you thought the ads were not fairly vetted,

Bradley Tusk: and that's why they now have antitrust issues,

Bradley Tusk: so they now have privacy issues,

Bradley Tusk: it's why liberals being totally held back.

FEMALE_1: So if you had a phone line into Zuckerberg right now,

FEMALE_1: you'd say, just stop this nonsense.

Bradley Tusk: Actually, what I would say. Uh, clearly,

Bradley Tusk: he feels strongly and differently about it.

Bradley Tusk: And I'm sure if I understood

Bradley Tusk: his perspective better, maybe he'd be right.

Bradley Tusk: But, it seems to me that all of

Bradley Tusk: their problems stem from this one thing,

Bradley Tusk: and they would be wise to stop doing it.

MALE_1: What do you think the delicate strategy is

MALE_1: gonna be for Michael Bloomberg?

MALE_1: We know he doesn't have field offices

MALE_1: in Iowa or New Hampshire.

MALE_1: If anything, he's most likely

MALE_1: looking to Super Tuesday in March.

MALE_1: Do you think the idea here is maybe

MALE_1: Bloomberg thinks there's going to be

MALE_1: a brokered convention? [OVERLAPPING]

Bradley Tusk: You know, certainly, certainly possible.

MALE_1: At the end of the day, he comes up on top?

Bradley Tusk: Right. So I think right now you said to me,

Bradley Tusk: we'll get to a brokered convention and

Bradley Tusk: you guys will be in the mix, I take it.

Bradley Tusk: Right? Because if we're in the mix,

Bradley Tusk: then it comes down to who is best

Bradley Tusk: suited to take on Trump and win.

Bradley Tusk: It gets very hard for Elizabeth Warren,

Bradley Tusk: I know she wants to be president very,

Bradley Tusk: very badly, sort of Sanders.

Bradley Tusk: But the notion that they're gonna

Bradley Tusk: win in a general election

Bradley Tusk: is much more difficult for someone

Bradley Tusk: like Mike Bloomberg winning.

Bradley Tusk: I think what you'll see ultimately are

Bradley Tusk: the super delegates and President Obama and other people,

Bradley Tusk: they're weighing in and trying to help

Bradley Tusk: make sure the party picks the right candidate.

MALE_1: I'm glad you mentioned Elizabeth Warren

MALE_1: because there is this interesting piece

MALE_1: of Politico this morning about, um, the former mayor,

MALE_1: his former, uh, campaign

MALE_1: donations to GOP representatives,

MALE_1: namely Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

MALE_1: He was going up against Elizabeth Warren.

MALE_1: How does Michael Bloomberg get

MALE_1: Elizabeth Warren supporters based on something?

Bradley Tusk: Yeah, I mean, it ultimately in the primary,

Bradley Tusk: you're not gonna get that, right?

Bradley Tusk: So the question then becomes for her supporters,

Bradley Tusk: if the choice in the general election

Bradley Tusk: is Michael Bloomberg or Donald Trump,

Bradley Tusk: you can have Trump or you could have someone who is

Bradley Tusk: a fierce advocate protecting a woman's right to choose,

Bradley Tusk: trying to curb illegal guns, fighting climate change.

Bradley Tusk: His personal efforts are called,

Bradley Tusk: called close, one and a half

Bradley Tusk: the coal plants in this country already.

Bradley Tusk: So if you want someone that actually

Bradley Tusk: lives the values that you

Bradley Tusk: believe in and touch things

Bradley Tusk: about them, you vote for Mike.

Bradley Tusk: On the flip side, if you like things the way they are,

Bradley Tusk: then you can stay home or you can vote for Trump.

FEMALE_1: I want to switch gears and talk a little about

FEMALE_1: your recent investment

FEMALE_1: of some of your shares [OVERLAPPING].

Bradley Tusk: Sure.

FEMALE_1: But Uber, [inaudible 00:06:39] appeared and expired,

FEMALE_1: and then it talks about this, uh,

FEMALE_1: on their networks here as well.

FEMALE_1: But is your faith in the company

FEMALE_1: gone or is it the advancement?

Bradley Tusk: It's pretty shaken, no, no, it's pretty shaken.

Bradley Tusk: I've been selling, I still have some left

Bradley Tusk: because it was too much to sell in one shot.

Bradley Tusk: Um, but overall, it seems

Bradley Tusk: to me that when the company change its leadership,

Bradley Tusk: they made a very panic choice

Bradley Tusk: and they picked someone and Dara,

Bradley Tusk: who is, you know,

Bradley Tusk: by all accounts, a very nice man,

Bradley Tusk: um, but not an innovator in any way.

Bradley Tusk: When you're company is losing

Bradley Tusk: billions of dollars a quarter,

Bradley Tusk: the only people invest in you is because they

Bradley Tusk: believe in your vision for the future.

Bradley Tusk: And if you don't have a vision for the future,

Bradley Tusk: and your main thing is that you're just nice to everyone,

Bradley Tusk: investors don't really like that,

Bradley Tusk: which is why the stock is down so much,

Bradley Tusk: not just from the IPO, but

Bradley Tusk: from a valuation a couple of years ago.

FEMALE_1: Do you see a scenario where

FEMALE_1: Travis Kalanick would be brought back?

Bradley Tusk: No, no, I talked to Travis.

Bradley Tusk: I think he's really happy doing what

Bradley Tusk: he's doing. He's building a new startup.

Bradley Tusk: And, and the truth is, that's where he's best suited,

Bradley Tusk: is building something new and taking on

Bradley Tusk: something that hasn't existed before making it happen.

Bradley Tusk: But there's two, more than two people in the world

Bradley Tusk: between Dara and Travis.

Bradley Tusk: I think, all the time they would say, well,

Bradley Tusk: if Travis don't come back, who would it be?

Bradley Tusk: There's 7.6 billion people in the world,

Bradley Tusk: I don't know if someone is clearly

Bradley Tusk: failing in London's, uh,

Bradley Tusk: announcement yesterday, just to get another sign of it,

Bradley Tusk: uh, I don't know how much more he has to

Bradley Tusk: fail before the board does something about it.

FEMALE_1: So are you not

FEMALE_1: even then happy with the re-org, right?

FEMALE_1: I mean, you had the-

Bradley Tusk: No.

FEMALE_1: Chief product officer leaving the CML rolls rolling up,

FEMALE_1: you had, you know, have hundreds of layoffs at Uber.

Bradley Tusk: Yeah, you have internal turmoil,

Bradley Tusk: you have a low share price,

Bradley Tusk: you have political and regulatory problems, you know,

Bradley Tusk: it's hard to point to a single thing that they've

Bradley Tusk: done right once since this guy took over,

Bradley Tusk: at a certain point the honeymoon is over,

Bradley Tusk: the audition's over, put someone in.

FEMALE_1: SoftBank.

Bradley Tusk: Yeah.

FEMALE_1: Really in the news.

FEMALE_1: WeWork failed IPO, but also

FEMALE_1: now under scrutiny with their investors,

FEMALE_1: maybe not focusing on their core business,

FEMALE_1: and doing too much of this VCP playtime.

FEMALE_1: How do you think SoftBank is going to

FEMALE_1: come out at the end of the year?

Bradley Tusk: Yeah, the first of all, I think

Bradley Tusk: Mas is an incredibly impressive man,

Bradley Tusk: and so affects the credit part of it.

Bradley Tusk: They'll come out just fine.

Bradley Tusk: But it seems to me that

Bradley Tusk: if you're a Masa and your original vision

Bradley Tusk: was we're going to put $100 billion and

Bradley Tusk: going to pick the S&P off 20 years from now,

Bradley Tusk: he should stick with that strategy.

Bradley Tusk: Like yes, WeWork was a really bad call,

Bradley Tusk: and yet they're underwater a little bit on Uber.

Bradley Tusk: But ultimately, it shouldn't be about what

Bradley Tusk: happened in one or two or three years,

Bradley Tusk: but what happens in 10 or 20 or 30 years,

Bradley Tusk: and if he truly believes in that strategy,

Bradley Tusk: my advice would be to stick with it.

FEMALE_1: All right, Bradley, thank you so much for being here.

Bradley Tusk: Thank you for having me.

MALE_1: Bradley Tusk is the founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings.

MALE_1: He's also former campaign manager for

MALE_1: Michael Bloomberg's mayoral run. Thanks again.

Bradley Tusk: Thank you.