By Ken Stone
It’s the height of triviality. But in the presidential contest, the issue has arisen: How tall is Mike Bloomberg?
Calling the former New York City mayor “Mini Mike,” President Trump says his potential Democratic rival is 5-foot-4.
“In reality, Mr Bloomberg stands at 5’8”, according to Google,” says the Independent newspaper of Britain. “However, both he and Mr Trump have faced accusations of not being sincere about their heights.”The New York Times in 2014 said Bloomberg, “who exaggerated his height on his driver’s license (at 5-10),” was 5-7, but “had a tendency to vanish in groups.” The same paper on Thursday noted that during his 2002-13 mayoralty, he was variously reported 5-6, 5-7 and just shy of 5-8.
On Wednesday, Jay Mathews of The Washington Post wrote a whole column about presidential candidate heights, asserting that Bloomberg is 5-8 and noting that since 1952 and the advent of television, 12 of the 17 White House contests have been won by the taller person.
“Heightism is wrong,” wrote the 5-4 Mathews. “The electoral bias against us short people should be exposed and eradicated. I don’t have a solution yet.”
Also wrong: The conventional wisdom on Bloomberg’s physical stature.
Mini Mike is a 5’4” mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians. No boxes please. He hates Crazy Bernie and will, with enough money, possibly stop him. Bernie’s people will go nuts!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2020
When Bloomberg visited San Diego on January 5, he was only feet away from a Times of San Diego photographer, who is 5-2 1/2 in running shoes.
Only yards away, I estimated Bloomberg was no more than 2 inches taller than our photographer. (I also observed how short his lectern was at the Wendy Wheatcroft backyard visit.)
Photos taken of Bloomberg earlier that day show him nearly a head shorter than Fuse Integration founder and CEO Sumner Lee.
So we asked Lee his height.“As for Sumner: he is at least seven feet tall. He can leap over buildings in a single bound,” came his email reply. “OK, for real, I’m just a hair over 6 [feet] tall.”
MaryAnne Pintar, the former chief of staff to Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego, has taken a leave of absence to work for Bloomberg (who turned 78 Friday).
Via Twitter mail, Pintar said: “I’ve stood next to him and I’d guess 5’7 or 5’8.”
Sabrina Singh, national spokeswoman for Bloomberg’s campaign, on Friday provided a letter from the candidate’s doctor, Stephen D. Sisson, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
“Mr. Bloomberg is 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 165 pounds, and has a muscular body mass index of 25.8kg/m2,” said a 300-word “medical report,” calling the billionaire “a 77-year-old man in outstanding health.”
(The New York Times notes that Bloomberg has given Johns Hopkins, his alma mater, $3.3 billion, which has the Bloomberg School of Public Health.)
“There are no medical concerns, present or looming, that would prevent him from serving as president of the United States,” Sisson said in December.
But questions still loom on the accuracy of the height claims.
The Washington Beacon took a deep dive into the matter.
“Bloomberg’s account of his height has changed over time,” the paper said. “In 2006, he said, ‘What chance does a five-foot-seven billionaire Jew who’s divorced really have of becoming president?’ A 2003 Daily News article placed him at five-foot-six, as did a 2013 Post piece.”
Writing in Chronicles Magazine, former Bloomberg News staffer Edward Welsch says he’s seen his old boss in person “and he’s strikingly short. My colleagues and I estimated him at 5’5”.” Welsch included a 2011 photo of Bloomberg standing next to same-height French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy is thought to be 165 centimeters, or 5-5.
Times of San Diego wrote to Mathews, the author of the Washington Post piece, arguing that Bloomberg is what Trump says he is: 5-4.
“Many agree with you and your wife, Ken,” Mathews responded. “We may have to wait until he is elected and the White House doctor has to report his vitals.”
Updated at 12:10 p.m. Feb. 15, 2020
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: