Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decried the country’s “broken two-party system” at a book party in New York City Thursday night, testing out a message that could serve as the underpinning of a presidential run.
“Candidates sense that … America has lost faith with its institutions, but instead of fixing it, they are trying to exploit it,” Bloomberg said at a book party for columnist Peggy Noonan, according to a transcript provided by a source close to the former mayor. “The list of supposed villains we hear about is long – but the actual solutions that Americans seek have been in short supply.”
Bloomberg recently told the Financial Times he was considering an independent run in response to the Democratic and Republican primaries. The Bloomberg L.P. founder is one of the richest men in the world with an estimated net worth of $41.3 billion, meaning he could self-finance on the scale of a major party nominee.
“The problems that we face are very real,” Bloomberg said. “We all know about them: There’s wage stagnation at home; American retreat around the world; and a corrupt, gridlocked and broken two-party system that answers to lobbyists and special interests instead of the American people.”
He added that the political environment was “why you see the current candidates out there doing well and not the conventional ones,” an apparent nod to the rise of Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side.
While acknowledging the populist frustrations undergirding their campaigns, Bloomberg indicated he’d take a calmer and more pragmatic approach.
“I know that you don’t solve problems by pointing fingers or making pie-in-the-sky promises,” he said. “You solve them by bringing people together around common goals, promoting innovation, demonstrating independence and recognizing that compromise is not a bad word.”
This article originally appeared on MSNBC.com.