A graphic featuring an image of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg next to a quote ostensibly uttered by him about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, referring to the GOP candidate as "con artist" and a "cheat," has been widely circulated on social media:
I have known Trump for decades. We have traveled in the same business circles. He is known among other millionaires as a con artist and among business owners as a cheat out to stiff everyone.
The text of this image first started circulating in July 2016, shortly after Bloomberg made an appearance at the Democratic National Convention to endorse Hillary Clinton. Bloomberg issued several remarks critical of Donald Trump during his DNC speech, including referring to his candidacy as a "con" and mocking his business acumen, but he did not say the words attributed to him above.
A full transcript of Bloomberg's speech can be found here, while the relevant portion has been reproduced below:
I'm a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one! Trump says he'll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories. He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the US visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages. He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them. What'd I miss here?!
Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy. He wants you to believe that we can solve our biggest problems by deporting Mexicans and shutting out Muslims. He wants you to believe that erecting trade barriers will bring back good jobs. He's wrong on both counts.
We can only solve our biggest problems if we come together and embrace the freedoms that our Founding Fathers established right here in Philadelphia, which permitted our ancestors to create the great American exceptionalism that all of us now enjoy. Donald Trump doesn't understand that. Hillary Clinton does. And we can only create good jobs if we make smarter investments in infrastructure and do more to support small businesses. Not stiff them. Donald Trump doesn't understand that. Hillary Clinton does.
I understand the appeal of a businessman president. But Trump's business plan is a disaster in the making. He would make it harder for small businesses to compete, do great damage to our economy, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe.
The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice. And we can't afford to make that choice.
Nonetheless, some newspapers misquoted Bloomberg and reported that he had referred to Trump as a "con artist":
As Michael Bloomberg said perfectly about Trump during his speech at the Democratic convention in July: “I’m a New Yorker — and I know a con artist when I see one.”
It was Florida senator Marco Rubio who referred to Trump (more than once) as a "con artist" during the campaign for the Republican nomination:
“We are so excited about what lies ahead for our campaign,” Rubio said. “You see, just five days ago, we began to unmask the true nature of the front-runner so far in this race. Five days ago, we began to explain to the American people that Donald Trump is a con artist.”
“Two weeks from tonight right here in Florida we are going to send a message loud and clear,” Rubio said. “We are going to send the message that the party of Lincoln and Reagan and the presidency of the United States will never be held by a con artist.”