By DOUG GRAVES
HILLSBORO, Ohio — Michael Bloomberg is said to have short legs, but there are many who believe the U.S. Presidential candidate can still insert a foot into his mouth.
Comments made by Bloomberg two years ago about farmers is resonating today and causing a fire storm, not only among the other presidential candidates but those in agriculture as well:
Bloomberg, Nov. 17, 2016: If you think about it, the agrarian society lasted 3,000 years, and we can teach processes. I can teach anybody – even people in this room, so no offense intended – to be a farmer. It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, you add water, up comes corn. You can learn that. Then you had 300 years of the industrial society. You put the piece of metal on the lathe, you turn the crank in direction of arrow and you can have a job. And we created a lot of jobs. At one point, 98 percent of the world worked in agriculture. Today it’s 2% of the United States.
The viral 58-second clip, seen more than 3.5 million times on Twitter alone since Friday, Feb. 14, was lifted from a 2016 appearance at the University of Oxford in England in which Bloomberg, speaking to a group at the Said Business School.
Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg’s campaign manager, complains that the remarks were taken out of context and exploited by his rivals, specifically Democratic presidential front-runner Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. In a statement, Sheekey pointed out that the clip leaves off “Mike’s first sentence where he is referring to agrarian society that lasted 3,000 years, not farmers today.”
Bloomberg’s comments in 2016 came about after he was first asked how the United States should address income inequality. Then, Bloomberg talked about educational inequality. This all led to the comments about farmers, which led to tweets and comments by celebrities and farmers alike.
In a Tweet, Donald Trump Jr. wrote: “Bloomberg wouldn’t last three seconds as a farmer, but like his comments on minorities, you can tell he really hates regular hardworking Americans.”
Charlie Daniels Tweeted: “He will never fight for them because he couldn’t care less about them.”
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass wrote: “Bloomburg: mocking American farmers is no way to unify the country. He might as well have called them deplorable rubes.”
The backlash on social media was swift, just as it was among many farmers across the Buckeye State.
“Mr. Bloomberg may have a lot of money and know a lot about many things, but when it comes to farming he has no idea what we do nor how long it takes to do these jobs,” said Dale Anderson, corn and soybean farmer in Ross County in Ohio. “The general public hasn’t a clue to knowing all the tasks we perform on the farm and it’s much, much more than planting a seed and covering it with soil.”
Daryl Caldwell of Mahoning County assists his father-in-law in tending to a 300-sow operation. Caldwell found Bloomberg’s comments “distasteful and unknowledgeable.”
“It’s quite obvious he knows little about agriculture and that’s sad,” Caldwell said. “Too many politicians claim to know a lot about every occupation, but in agriculture he’s clueless.”
Such a political gaffe by Bloomberg could haunt him through November’s election. Bloomberg’s elitist faming comments could be the Hillary Clinton ‘Deplorables’ moment that poses the biggest threat to his campaign.
Bloomberg cutline: Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has his sights on becoming the next President of the United States, but comments he made about the American farmer in 2016 have come back to bite him. (photo submitted)