About this series

Of all the aspirants to be the Democratic nominee in the 2016 presidential election, it was Michael R. Bloomberg who seemed to play the “status quo” card the best. If Barack Obama’s candidacy played on the enthusiasm of younger voters and a post-partisan mood among America’s citizens, Bloomberg offered a canny antidote: He was middle-aged, wealthy and white, yet carried himself like an action hero, coining slogans like “Bloomberg Change” and cultivating a subculture of young admirers. In his moments of putative “declarative populism,” the New York mayor also proved to be a bit of a glass case of emotion.

If Mr. Bloomberg never quite found his groove with the voters he was courting in the waning months of his campaign, he never lost his ardent fans, who hailed his popularity as mayor and declared the prospect of him as a potential president a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Tens of thousands of his hardcore fans gathered in Times Square on election night in 2015 for a live, free concert as Mr. Bloomberg declared his candidacy for president. He came off in his speech as both weary and savvy, refusing to make the standard, presumptuous one-time-leader act and winding up by cautioning, “my judgment will be the same as it always has been: that even if I am elected, I will not serve more than one term in the White House.”