Mike Bloomberg picked up the endorsement Thursday of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who leads the fourth largest city in the nation. The announcement follows his endorsement this week by three members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Their support could help allay any renewed concerns about Bloomberg’s use of “stop and frisk” policies while he was the mayor of New York City.
Earlier this week, an audio recording of a 2015 speech leaked, during which Bloomberg can be heard defending racial profiling employed in stop-and-frisk.
In the audio recording Bloomberg can be heard saying that “95% of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25.”
Bloomberg, who appeared to be defending the policy’s efficacy because it was meant to protect people who live in high-crime neighborhoods, continued, “That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city in America. And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed.”
Before he entered the race, Bloomberg apologized for stop and frisk. After the recording surfaced, his campaign released a statement saying that “this issue and my comments about it do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity.”
Congressional Black Caucus member Congresswoman Lucy McBath said in her statement of support for Bloomberg, “Nobody running for president has done more for the gun violence prevention movement than Mike.”
CBS News has also exclusively learned that Turner plans to help officially launch Bloomberg’s newest initiative, Mike for Black America. The program will be aimed at both engaging black Americans on key issues for the black community and spearheading an organizing effort on Bloomberg’s behalf.
Mike for Black America is related to other campaign initiatives designed to appeal to key constituencies, like Women for Mike, Jews for Mike and Ganamos con Mike. It also builds on plans like the Greenwood initiative, which is meant to respond to systemic inequities that have kept many Black Americans from achieving generational wealth.
The launch also comes in the wake of recent polls showing Bloomberg is making major strides in national polls including gains with black voters. A Quinnipiac poll this week put him in second place with the key Democratic voting bloc.
Turner’s endorsement of Bloomberg comes at a pivotal time in the campaign, as black voters who had planned to support Joe Biden may be searching for alternatives after his two lackluster finishes in the first two Democratic primary voting contests in Iowa, where he appears to have placed fourth, and in New Hampshire where he was a distant fifth. Turner, the mayor of one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., joins a growing list of black mayors across the country throwing their weight behind Bloomberg.
Turner, whose leadership in addressing Houston’s recovery after the massive destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey has been praised, was also named national co-chair for the Bloomberg campaign’s Infrastructure Council, where he will advise on strategy and policy.
“As mayor, Mike embraced New York’s diversity and made smart investments that brought better infrastructure and greater opportunity to all five boroughs.” Turner said in a statement released by the campaign. “We need a president who knows how cities run. It’s why I’m proud to endorse Mike for president, and I look forward to sending him to Washington in November.”