WASHINGTON – Leaked audio of billionaire and 2020 Democratic contender Michael Bloomberg shows him calling the progressive left and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mas., "scary" while also suggesting that Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, would have been a better president than former President Barack Obama.
CNN released the audio Monday, saying it came from a Goldman Sachs event for at Yankee Stadium in 2016. In it, Bloomberg is heard saying "the left is rising. The progressive movement is just as scary. Elizabeth Warren on one side. And whoever you want to pick on the Republicans on the right side?" when asked about the rise of the far-right in Europe.
Bloomberg also said that he would use a "campaign platform" for the presidency to "defend the banks."
"You know how well that's gonna sell in this country," he said, adding that the people in the banking crowd are his "peeps."
Warren is a vocal Wall Street critic and consumer advocate. Soon after audio of the remarks started making waves online, Warren promoted the website ScareMikeBloomberg.com.
Bloomberg was a Republican until he switched to become an independent in 2007, and then became a Democrat in 2018.
Bloomberg also criticized Obama, whom he endorsed in 2012 during the last week of the campaign. But he told the crowd his 2016 endorsement was "backhanded."
"The second Obama election I wrote a very backhanded endorsement of Obama," Bloomberg said. "Saying I thought he hadn't done the right thing, hadn't done, hadn't been good at things that I think are important and Romney would be a better person at doing that. But Romney did not stick with the values that he had when he was governor of Massachusetts."
In a statement to CNN, Bloomberg's campaign defended the former mayor, saying his comments about banks were a "joke" and that the comments about Obama were "an important point."
"Everyone who read Mike's endorsement of President Obama saw that it was aimed at convincing Americans who saw merit in both candidates to vote for Obama," the statement says.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Bloomberg's top competitors for the Democratic nomination, slammed the comments, with his campaign saying, "Now we know that behind closed doors, Bloomberg described his last-minute endorsement of President Obama in 2012 as 'very backhanded' and said that he thought 'Romney would be a better person at doing' the 'things that I think are important.' Bloomberg may have changed his voter registration but he's still a Republican at heart."
Bloomberg jumped into the race in November. His late entry was spurred by his concern that the leading Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT., Warren, and Biden, would not be able to defeat President Donald Trump in the general election.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Audio: Michael Bloomberg slammed Elizabeth Warren as 'scary'