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S.F. Mayor On Decision To Endorse Bloomberg


We're going to turn once again to the race to replace Donald Trump as president. It is increasingly fluid. And one reason is a late entry - the former New York City mayor, philanthropist and businessman Michael Bloomberg. He's been getting noticed for his eye-popping ad spending and some key endorsements, such as from President Trump's former Navy secretary, Richard Spencer.

Now, though, we want to focus on a particular group that has been lining up behind Bloomberg - big-city mayors. CityLab reports that Bloomberg has racked up more endorsements from mayors in the 100 largest U.S. cities than any other candidate. His supporters include the mayors of Washington, D.C., Louisville, Memphis and San Jose. The former mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, is a national co-chair, as is the mayor of Columbia, S.C., in a key early voting state. And that list also includes London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, who shared her reasons in a recent conversation.

LONDON BREED: He has really since leaving the office as mayor - has spent a lot of his personal time focusing on transforming and supporting cities. And I think that says a lot about who he is as a person. He cares about people. He cares about a number of initiatives around climate change, which I truly appreciate as someone who's been pushing local policies here in San Francisco. He has pushed against the tobacco companies that target young people - just a number of things that oftentimes aren't necessarily the most popular and things that you can't always see but are necessary for the health and well-being of the future of our country.

MARTIN: But he's also, as you know, a polarizing figure in New York City in part because of his stop and frisk policies. Or he didn't start those policies, but he certainly defended them well into his tenure. He has apologized for that subsequently as he's entered the race, saying that he was wrong.

I mean, you're San Francisco's first black female mayor. Mayor Bloomberg has gained the support of a number of other prominent African American leaders including Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., as we said, Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, Calif., Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, S.C.

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But there are a lot of African Americans from his city, from New York City, who still feel that this was such a damaging policy - that it damaged a lot of people's lives unnecessarily, humiliated thousands of people. How do you respond to people who still feel angry about that or who feel that that represents a lack of judgment or a lack of understanding about how policies affect African Americans in particular?

BREED: I think that unfortunately it occurred, and there isn't a politician alive that hasn't made a mistake, and their policy sometimes has led to a situation like this that has negatively impacted the African American community.

And I think that he realizes the mistake of the past, and his goal is to look at a way in which we can correct that mistake along with a number of other issues around not just the criminal justice system but what is happening around homeownership, what is happening around business ownership, what is happening with our historically black colleges - a number of other challenges that continue to persist in the African American community.

We need specific plans for the African American community that are infused and by the African American community in order to change the direction that we have gone in this country as it relates to a significant population that has contributed so much to the vitality of this country.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, there was a study from UC Berkeley published in December - of course, as we said, the race is fluid, so that was a while ago. But back then, the poll showed that only 2% of Californians support Mayor Bloomberg as their first choice for the Democratic presidential candidate. The California primary is about a month away. How do you intend to get more people to support his candidacy?

BREED: It will not be easy, of course. But it is still worth it because, again, we want to make sure that the Democratic nominee has the ability to bring people together and to beat Donald Trump. And I think that Michael Bloomberg is the person to do it. He has what it takes. And I'm hopeful. I'm optimistic. And I think that the tide is changing in this race, and people are taking a serious look at his candidacy.

MARTIN: That is the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed. She is one of a number of mayors, especially big-city mayors, who have endorsed Michael Bloomberg for the presidency. We reached her in San Francisco.

Mayor Breed, thanks so much for talking to us.

BREED: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.