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Trump, Bloomberg trade barbs as ex-New York mayor rises in polls
[NEW YORK] US President Donald Trump and White House hopeful Mike Bloomberg locked horns on Thursday in a blaze of caustic tweets as the former New York mayor climbs in the polls in his drive to capture the Democratic presidential nomination.
In the latest skirmish between the New York billionaires, Trump hit out at "loser" Bloomberg, who responded that the president was a "circus barking clown."
For days now, an especially aggressive post-impeachment Trump has been going after Mr Bloomberg, whom he has known for decades.
Mr Trump repeatedly comments on the stature of the former mayor, who is estimated to be around 1.73m tall, calling him "mini Mike." Mr Trump stands at 1.98m.
"Mini Mike Bloomberg is a LOSER who has money but can't debate and has zero presence, you will see," Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday.
In another broadside, he described his rival as "a 5'4' mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians."
On Tuesday, Mr Trump accused Mr Bloomberg of racism, retweeting part of a 2015 recording in which the media tycoon defended the police policy known as "stop and frisk," which targeted non-whites during his time running New York.
In November, just before entering the presidential race, Mr Bloomberg changed course and apologised for the policy.
Mr Bloomberg, one of the richest men in the world with a net worth estimated at US$56 billion, hit back at Trump on Thursday.
"@realDonaldTrump - we know many of the same people in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown," Mr Bloomberg tweeted.
"They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence. I have the record & the resources to defeat you. And I will," he added.
The war of words comes as Mr Bloomberg, who has so far spent more than US$260 million of his own money on his campaign, is rising the polls.
An average of recent nationwide surveys places him in third place after self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders and former vice-president Joe Biden.
And Mr Trump is taking note, as are Mr Bloomberg's rivals for the nomination, who accuse him of trying to buy the election with his vast fortune.
Mr Bloomberg is skipping the first four votes in the nomination contest, which contribute just a small number delegates to the convention that will choose the Democrat who will take on Mr Trump.
Instead he is concentrating on so-called Super Tuesday on March 3, in which 14 states hold primaries. They include California and Texas which, along with New York, select the largest numbers of delegates.