Mike Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest people, pushed back against claims that he wants to buy the Democratic presidential nomination. In his first TV interview since joining the 2020 race, Bloomberg spoke with “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King Thursday about how he’s paying for his campaign, as well as his plan to fight gun violence and where he stands on the political spectrum.

On gun control: “Look at the victims”

GAYLE KING: Okay, we’re in Colorado, Mayor, because you chose this place to launch your big gun initiative. And I’m wondering, as I sat there looking at the families, hearing the families, because they have heard this before. “We’re going to do it. We’re going to get it done. Will be some changes.” Why do you think you’re different this time?MIKE BLOOMBERG: I understand the problem. You have to go and look at the victims before you can really understand what they’re going through, the emotional problems they have, the financial problems. Somebody in your family gets killed, how do you take care of everybody? Who’s going to take care of the kids? Who pays for the funeral? Part of the answer is you gotta go out and look at the problem rather than just talk about in an academic sense. You’ve gotta be able to go to the legislature and convince them, at least argue with them, at least ask — ask them to participate, and say, “Look, here’s why you should do it.” It’s leadership, and we don’t seem to have that when it comes to guns. You had the NRA, which was the leader. The NRA has basically been beaten. We’ve gone and they’ve lost most of their funding sources, their top management is in chaos. KING: You think you can work with the NRA? BLOOMBERG: No. But I don’t think — I think you can avoid the NRA. You — or you can beat them. KING: So you intend to work around the NRA is what you’re saying? BLOOMBERG: Well, I think you just don’t pay — you just don’t make much of the NRA. You don’t have to go talk to them at all.

On being a billionaire: “I don’t want to be bought”

KING: Well, it would be no surprise to you that your fellow candidates are not so glad to see you get in. Elizabeth Warren suggested you’re trying to buy the election. Bernie Sanders says as a billionaire you can run even the dumbest person on the Earth and pay for it. You see what they’re all getting here — the point they’re all making? BLOOMBERG: Yeah, the point they’re making is — KING: You’ve got a lot of money. BLOOMBERG: — it’s okay if they — no, what — the point they’re making is it’s okay if they ask other people for all their money and it will help their careers. Whereas, if somebody goes out and makes the money themselves and gives it away — I give an enorm — virtually all my income goes to public health issues and education and the arts and the environment, things that I care about. And I think I could do a lot of good for the country if I could become president. And so using some of those moneys to fund the campaign is fine. What is true is — KING: But I don’t think you should miss the point, Mayor. BLOOMBERG: — look, my — wait a sec. My father made $6,000 the best year of his life. I don’t come from money. Nobody gave me a head start. I had — my parents gave me an education in the public school system in Medford, Massachusetts. And they taught me ethics. And they taught me hard work. I worked my way through college. And then I worked for 15 years. I got fired. I started a company. The company turned out to be phenomenally successful — KING: No, you’ve been very successful. BLOOMBERG: And I give 100% of the money away. What’s wrong with all of that? And then I turn and they’re criticizing me for it. I don’t know, ask them what they’re doing. Why didn’t they do that? They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money. And how much of their own money do they put into their campaigns? KING: But I think the point that they’re making, and a lot of people are making, is you’re — a billionaire who’s buying this election. What is your response to that? BLOOMBERG: I’m not buying any more — I’m doing exactly the same thing they’re doing, except that I am using my own money. They’re using somebody else’s money and those other people expect something from them. Nobody gives you money if they don’t expect something. And I don’t want to be bought.

On getting married: “Neither of us have any plans to change”

KING: I want to — get to a couple personal issues. Because you would be the first modern day single president. But we all know in New York you are not an eligible bachelor. Your significant other, Diana Taylor, is a very accomplished, highly respected, highly admired woman. Would she be our de facto first lady? Is she playing a role in your campaign? BLOOMBERG: She’s playing a role in the campaign, number one. Number two, we’ve only been living together for 19 years. And I think it’s fair, if I can speak for her as well, neither of us have any plans to change. KING: Living together? BLOOMBERG: We would — KING: Do you all think about getting married? BLOOMBERG: Not a subject I’m going to discuss with you, Gayle. KING: Well, I am curious. I didn’t know it had been that long. Okay. So you didn’t answer me. BLOOMBERG: But it only seems like half that length of time. KING: But you didn’t answer the question. Would she be our de facto first lady? BLOOMBERG: Oh yeah, of course.

On what political party he identifies with: “Basically nonpartisan”

KING: Who is the real Mike Bloomberg? I was thinking, you were a Democrat. Then you were a Republican. Then you were an Independent. And now you’re a Democrat. Who are you? BLOOMBERG: I am a social liberal, fiscal moderate, who is basically nonpartisan. I grew up as a Democrat. In Massachusetts, there are no Republicans. I moved to New York, where I was a Democrat. There are no Republicans. I couldn’t become mayor on the Democratic line. The Republicans said, “Well, you can run as a Republican.” In New York City, the mayor’s job is not a partisan job, so I did. But you could have voted me on a different line. We have a complicated system. KING: But don’t you think most of America is in the middle, that most people are centrist? BLOOMBERG: I do believe that most of the public is in the middle. I think it is — most people would say, whether they like my views or not, they would say, “He’s at least honest and genuine.” Some probably say smart, but not everybody would agree with that. But I think they’d all say hardworking and honest.

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