April 16, 2014 at 7:52 AM ET
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced his plans to bankroll a $50 million network to help curb gun violence, said Wednesday he has no plans to run for president.
“No is the answer. Plain and simple,” he told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive interview. “I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to make a better world for myself, for my kids, for my grandchildren.”
Bloomberg, the chairman of Everytown for Gun Safety, an umbrella organization bringing together several gun-control groups, unveiled his $50 million plan in a New York Times article Tuesday night to counter efforts by the National Rifle Association. His new group will focus intensely on outreach to women and mothers who want to reduce gun violence. It also will take a page from the NRA playbook by trying to put heavy pressure on lawmakers to do the same.
“People will vote for whatever they think is in their own self interest to get elected and re-elected,” he said.
But Bloomberg said he isn't trying to outspend the NRA, which has poured tens of millions into political activities and receives additional financial help from political groups.
"This is not a battle of dollars. This is a battle for the hearts and minds of America so that we can protect our children, protect innocent people," he said.
The NRA, which generally opposes gun control legislation because the organization does not believe such laws prevent mass shootings, had no comment for the Times piece.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Bloomberg's initiative, said her organization plans to reach out to women and mothers over the next several months leading up to midterm elections.
"In many ways this is about emotion. The gun lobby has done a good job over the last 30 years of making a vocal minority afraid people will take their guns away. As a mother, I’m afraid someone is going to take my children away," she said.
Watts said her organization is committed to getting at least one million Americans to make this a priority at the ballot box.
"Right now women vote on abortion, health care and jobs. We want that to be gun violence prevention, gun violence prevention, gun violence prevention," she said.
Bloomberg said his initiative isn't about taking guns away from people but just ensuring that weapons don’t get in the hands of the wrong people — such as minors, criminals or the mentally ill. He said most Americans favor strengthening background checks for gun buyers to make sure such mistakes don't happen.
“Nobody is going to take anyone’s gun. Nobody is going to keep you from hunting or target practice or protecting yourself,” he said. “Just making sure that a handful of people, who we all agree shouldn’t have guns, don’t get their hands on them.”
Guthrie asked Bloomberg, who stepped down as mayor last year after serving more than a decade, whether he missed his old job. He quickly responded with a "no."