In an exclusive interview with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg explained why he chose to enter the 2020 presidential campaign so late. Bloomberg also spoke about President Trump, the other Democratic candidates including former Vice President Joe Biden, and his own complicated history on the issue of race and policing.
When asked why he entered the race so late, after saying in September that he wouldn't, Bloomberg offered this: "I watched [Trump] and said, 'we just can’t have another four years of this...' Then I watched all the candidates, and I just thought to myself, 'Donald Trump would eat them up.'"
"You think all the candidates who are running today, he would eat them up?" Gayle King asked.
"Let me rephrase that," Bloomberg said. "I think that I would do the best job of competing with him and beating him."
"I'm not trying to take his job...I'm trying to take away the job from Donald Trump," Bloomberg said about fellow candidate Joe Biden.
"Do you still consider him a friend?" King asked about Biden.
"Yeah, sure, why would he not be?" Bloomberg said. Both he and Biden are 77 years old. "I have the same rights as anybody else. Does it take an ego? Yeah, I guess it takes an ego to think that you could do the job. I have 12 years of experience in City Hall."
Bloomberg also dismissed claims about racial issues, apologizing for his infamous "stop and frisk" policy" and telling those complaining about diversity in the Democratic field of candidates: "If you wanted to enter and run for president of the United States, you could have done that. But don't complain to me that you're not in the race. It was up to you. And I thought there was a lot of diversity in the group of Democratic aspirants. Entry is not a barrier."
"So you're saying if you want diversity then get in?" King asked.
"That is exactly a good way to phrase it," he said.
Bloomberg also denied claims that he was trying to "buy" his way into the White House.
"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," he said.
"My father made $6,000 the best year of his life. I don't come from money. Nobody gave me a head start," he added. "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... 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?"
"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?" Gayle King asked.
"I'm not buying anything," he said. "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."