Bloomberg campaigns through Memphis, Nashville

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FILE – In this Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gestures while taking part in an on-stage conversation with former California Gov. Jerry Brown at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco. Michael Bloomberg swung through Tennessee on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019 highlighting his newly released health care plan and celebrating the opening of the Democrat’s state campaign headquarters. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Michael Bloomberg swung through Tennessee on Thursday, highlighting his newly released health care plan and celebrating the opening of the Democrat’s state campaign headquarters.

Bloomberg focused on his ability to appeal to both Republican and Democratic moderate voters while speaking to a crowd of just under 200 people. The event took place at the Woolworth building in downtown Nashville, where black civil rights leaders once defiantly sat at a segregated lunch counter that wouldn’t serve them.

“I think we can win this election,” Bloomberg said. “I think we can explain to the middle of the road that we can have change that is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. And we really can address these problems.”

The former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate has recently hired multiple high-profile Democratic activists throughout the state and is promising to hire many more to fill 20 field offices throughout Tennessee.

Republicans dominate almost every political seat in Tennessee, but Bloomberg said he would build a longstanding campaign team inside the Volunteer State — which in turn, he argued, would also fill more Democrats inside the GOP-led Statehouse.

“I’m committed to going to every state, not sure I can make it to all 50 before the election but I’m certainly going to get to those before the election where the primaries are in the month of March,” he said.

A handful of protesters attempted to disrupt Bloomberg’s speech, yelling out criticisms of Bloomberg’s resistance to more progressive policies on health care and the environment.

Democratic congressional candidate Justin Jones, a young black activist known for leading several demonstrations inside the Capitol, at one point yelled out “revolutionary” change was needed when building environmental policies.

Bloomberg quickly responded, “Just stop it, I’m doing more on the climate than you ever dreamed of. I’ve put a fortune into this thing and we’re still doing it.”

The protesters were then ushered outside.

Bloomberg is currently not campaigning in the traditional early voting states — which offer just a small percentage of the delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination —and instead has decided to focus more on Super Tuesday states, which includes Tennessee.

Nearly a quarter of primary delegates are up for grabs in the March 3 Super Tuesday contests, with 73 of those coming from Tennessee. Just seven other states will have more delegates than Tennessee on Super Tuesday.

Earlier that day, Bloomberg visited Memphis to announce that he supports a new government-run “public option” to compete with private insurance and called for Medicare to negotiate drug prices, using an approach similar to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent legislation.

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