Bloomberg appealing to black voters in Houston: 'My ethnicity doesn't matter'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Mike Bloomberg made a stop in the Greenspoint-area on Wednesday hoping to convince black voters to support his presidential campaign.

The former New York mayor and current 2020 democratic candidate spoke at the National Newspaper Publishers Association's Future of Black America Symposium.

"I'm running for office to make sure every student in every neighborhood has the same opportunities that I did," Bloomberg said. "Because the truth is, if I had been black, I wouldn't have had the same opportunities and my life would have turned out very differently."

Speaking one-on-one after the event, ABC13 asked Bloomberg why he thinks minority voters should support another wealthy, white male candidate.

Bloomberg was asked, "What do you say to minority voters who may be wary voting for another rich white guy?"

"Being rich doesn't matter," he responded. "It's what I do with the money. I give away all the money that I make, and I didn't inherit anything. My father made $6,000 the best year of his life. So, I have experience working my way up. I've been fired and hired, and I don't think my ethnicity matters."

When asked about his stance on reparations paid by the federal government for the descendants of African slaves, Bloomberg said he now backs the same study as his democratic rivals to study the possibility.

"I've agreed to back a study. I think we have to take as much money as we can to back public education, and if you want to help communities you have to improve public education. And that's where the effort should be, but let's see what the study comes up with," he said.

Bloomberg also spoke about his Greenspoint Initiative, designed to help boost economic prosperity among black Americans.

"It has three big goals help black families triple their wealth over the next ten years to an all time high, double the number of black-owned businesses, and we will help one million more black families buy a home," he said of the plan, which does not include direct reparation payments.

Bernie 2020 national co-chair Nina Turner was in Houston as well, arguing for Sanders, saying his entire political career has been pushing toward ending income inequality which she says appeals especially to black voters.

"Senator Sanders' goal is to change the material conditions of the people in this country, and African Americans understand that far deeper than most because of the disparities that still exist," she said.

In the new Texas Lyceum poll released Wednesday, Joe Biden leads the state with 28 percent support. Sanders is close behind with 26 percent. They're followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren at 13 percent. Though he entered the race later than the others, Bloomberg's at nine percent in the poll. He's followed by former South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounding out the top five at six percent.

"Texas is vitally important," Turner said.

Most of those candidates are focusing their ad money on the early states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, but both Bloomberg and Sanders are already spending in Texas.

The others are expected to focus more on the state if they're still in the game come primary day on March 3rd.

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