Mike Bloomberg said during an event last year that it wouldn’t be a “winning formula” for 2020 candidates to talk about “some guy wearing a dress and whether he, she or it can go to the locker room with their daughter.”
That was several months before the former New York City mayor launched his own presidential bid, and started selling campaign shirts reading “Protect trans rights .”
A video of the Democratic candidate's comments at a Manhattan business forum last March surfaced in a report by BuzzFeed News Tuesday night, spurring outrage from activists, who called Bloomberg’s characterization of LGBTQ and human rights issues “transphobic.”
Bloomberg, a former Republican, was referring to how far left he believed the Democratic Party had tilted and why he didn’t see some of the party’s more progressive stances as viable to a larger pool of voters. And at the time he made the comments, he had just announced he wouldn’t run for president. (He then announced his late entry in November.)
A spokesperson for Bloomberg’s campaign defended his record and platform on transgender rights issues, telling BuzzFeed News that “Mike is running to defeat Donald Trump and reverse the many policies he has implemented that attack the rights of the transgender community."
Bloomberg’s 2019 comments surfaced just hours after his campaign rolled out a video touting him as an ally.
The president of the Human Rights Campaign, a prominent LGBTQ equality organization, called on Bloomberg to apologize for his March comments, comparing them to talking points pushed by extremists.
“Transgender women aren’t ‘he, she or it,’” Alphonso David said in a statement posted to Twitter. “They’re women. LGBTQ people are human and deserve to be treated with respect.”
Bloomberg had come under fire this month for similarly saying in 2016 that: "If you want to know if somebody is a good salesman, give him the job of going to the Midwest and picking a town and selling to that town the concept that some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter."
His campaign offered a statement that also defended his record on LGBTQ issues when NBC News reported on the comments and subsequent backlash in early February.
Bloomberg will make his first presidential debate appearance Wednesday in Nevada.
Cover: U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate, Mike Bloomberg, looks on while visiting 'Building Momentum', a veteran owned business in Alexandria, Virginia on February 7, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)