Michael Bloomberg traded insults with Donald Trump on Sunday, calling the president “a pathological liar who lies about everything: his fake hair, his obesity and his spray-on tan”.
The comment, made through the Democratic presidential candidate’s press secretary, came in response to abusive tweets and remarks the president made in a Super Bowl interview with the Fox News host Sean Hannity.
In a quickfire section of the interview, Trump was asked what he thought of when he heard the names of various political rivals.
“Very little,” he said of Bloomberg. “I just think of little.”
Bloomberg, 77, is 5ft 8in tall. Trump, 73, is 6ft 3in.
Trump then repeated an evidence-free claim, also made on Twitter earlier, about Bloomberg demanding special treatment in the Democratic presidential primary because of his height.
“Now he wants a box for the debates to stand on. OK, it’s OK, there’s nothing wrong, you can be short. Why he should he get a box to stand on, OK? He wants a box for the debates. Why should he be entitled to that, really? Does that mean everyone else gets a box?”
The president also said he would “love to run against Bloomberg. I would love it.”
Bloomberg told reporters in Los Angeles he would “stand twice as tall as he does on the stage that matters” and said Trump “knows that I can beat him” .
An undignified exchange with Trump can be a sign of a candidate gaining credibility, at least with a president notoriously prone to lash out under pressure.