29/01/2019 3:42 AM AEDT | Updated 29/01/2019 5:18 AM AEDT

Michael Bloomberg Says A Third-Party Candidate Would Help Re-elect Trump

The former New York City mayor echoed an ally who said Howard Schultz’s presidential bid would be bad for Democrats.

Should former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz run for president as an independent ― as he has suggested he might ― it would split the Democratic vote in favor of President Donald Trump’s re-election, billionaire Michael Bloomberg said.

In a tweet Monday afternoon, Bloomberg ― who himself is flirting with a 2020 run as a Democrat ― said that any third-party candidate would disproportionately threaten the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she is, in the 2020 presidential election.

“Given the strong pull of partisanship and the realities of the electoral college system, there is no way an independent can win,” he said as part of a statement. “That is truer today than ever before.”

Bloomberg was parroting a tweet from Sunday by his former aide Howard Wolfson, who now works for the Bloomberg Foundation.

“I have seen enough data over many years to know that anyone running for POTUS as an independent will split the anti-incumbent, anti-Trump vote,” he wrote. “The stakes couldn’t be higher. We can not afford the risk of spoiler politics that result in Trump’s re-election.”

Schultz, a billionaire and self-described “lifelong Democrat,” was featured in an episode of “60 Minutes” Sunday night, where he said he was “seriously” mulling a run for president as a “centrist independent, outside of the two-party system.” During the interview, he ripped into the Democratic Party, accusing them of failing to offer a feasible health care proposal.

“Every American deserves the right to have access to quality health care,” Schultz told “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley. “But what the Democrats are proposing is something that is as false as the wall ― and that is free health care for all, which the country cannot afford.”

Part of Wolfson’s concern, evidently, is that Schultz appears to side with Democrats on a variety of issues, which could pull some Democratic voters away from their own candidates. HuffPost’s Maxwell Strachan reported on Sunday night:

During the interview, Schultz aligned himself with many Democrats in other ways. He said he believed there should be “a fair and equitable way” for undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens, that leaving the Paris climate accord was a “tremendous mistake,” and that the Republican tax bill went too far.

Schultz stepped away from Starbucks last summer after more than three decades with the company, saying he had become “deeply concerned” about “growing division” in the U.S. and wanted to figure out what he could do to help his country. 

Meanwhile, Trump saw this weekend’s “60 Minutes” too, and on Monday prodded his would-be opponent on Twitter, going after his intelligence.

“Howard Schultz doesn’t have the ‘guts’ to run for President!” Trump wrote. “Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the ‘smartest person.’”

This story has been updated with a tweet from Bloomberg.