One day after their candidate's debate debut turned into a ritual humiliation, Michael Bloomberg's campaign opened an office across the Columbia River from Portland.
The Feb. 20 opening of a Vancouver, Wash. office was timed to the March Democratic primary in Washington state, where Bloomberg hopes to gain delegates for the party's presidential nomination. (Bloomberg has already opened six others in the state.)
The party to open that office? It drew a small, older crowd—mainly Vancouver residents in their 60s and 70s.
They seemed confident Bloomberg is the best option to beat President Donald Trump.
Ron Fegenbush, 60, is "strongly leaning" toward Bloomberg. "He's run a government, he's run New York," Fegenbush said. "He really doesn't have to really answer to anybody, he's so wealthy."
The new no-frills office of the once public-health-obsessed New York City mayor (who famously tried to ban Big Gulps in the Big Apple, and bankrolled a failed soda tax in Portland) offered a spread of Frito-Lay chips, cans of Coke and Lacroix, and several four-foot-long hoagies. Plastered with campaign signage the office sits in downtown Vancouver on Main Street.
Pat Boyle, 64, called Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) a "loose cannon" and thinks Bloomberg might have the right experience to win in November.
"I decided that he had the best chances I thought to beat the nut job we got in there now," he said.
Mike Osheroff, 73, calls Bloomberg "the lesser of six evils" noting that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) promises Medicare for All without explaining where the cash will come from.
On the heels of the previous night's Democratic debate, it was hard for supporters to deny Bloomberg's shaky performance.
"It was a poor performance, but he's got nowhere to go but up," said Boyle, adding he could've been more aggressive in his delivery.
Peggy O'Donnell, 74, agreed: "I knew it was gonna be hard for him, it's not his best medium. I think he's very, very smart and a good leader and I think he can do it. Whether he can do it on a debate stage, I don't know, but I will support him regardless."
Some supporters went so far as to blame external factors.
"From what I'm reading, it sounds like some of the other people in the debate were kind of ganging up on Bloomberg and that made me feel like they're all scared of him," said Linda Brooks, 65. "It makes me think, OK, he might have a chance."
O'Donnell blamed the moderators.
"I didn't even consider that a debate," she said. "That was a shouting match. I thought the moderators did a very bad job of managing it compared to other times and so that made it be a slaughter for him."
Communications director for Bloomberg's Washington state offices Katie Rodihan says he was simply "warming up" in the first half and that he found his stride partway through.
"I think he did a good job," she said. "I think he stayed calm, levelheaded, and I was happy that the country got to hear what his plans were as president."
Beating Trump was on everyone's mind.
Field organizer Thao Xiong, 23, got involved in Bloomberg's campaign after experiencing "hopelessness" following Donald Trump's presidential win.
"I remember feeling so devastated, so hopeless the night that Trump got elected," said Xiong. "My parents were refugees, and so his entire campaign, his political rhetoric was an insult to my parents, my existence, my heritage."