Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign hosted dozens of Massachusetts' business leaders Friday at a closed-door meeting to pitch the former New York Mayor as a rival to President Trump and to reassure potential supporters that he won't repeat his disappointing debut debate performance.

"We clearly had a little bit of a rough night on the debate stage. We're going to be better next week down in South Carolina," Jim Anderson, a senior adviser to Bloomberg, told reporters after the private meeting at the offices of law firm Foley Hoag in Boston.

"We own the blame as his staff," Anderson said. "We didn't have him ready for the fight. We'll get him there."

A late entrant to the race, Bloomberg is skipping the first four contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — with the hope that he can outperform his rivals with voters on Super Tuesday states. The former mayor of New York City has pumped millions of dollars into ads airing in those 14 states, which includes Massachusetts.

During the meeting, Anderson strove to reassure those otherwise excited about a Bloomberg candidacy that the candidate's lackluster debate performance was a one-time fluke. He also addressed the controversial "stop and frisk" policy as New York mayor and reiterated the candidate's apologies to communities of color for what he now says was a damaging program.

Communications executive Colette Phillips told WGBH News she's comfortable with Bloomberg's apologies for stop and frisk and believes he'd make amends as president.

"One of the things that happens sometimes is when people make big mistakes and they're willing to admit it, they're going to do everything in their power," Phillips said. "I believe that Mike Bloomberg will do everything in his power to never make those mistakes again."

Those at the meeting described the crowd of local business leaders as mostly made up of moderate Democrats that believe Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are too liberal to defeat Trump. An alternative to moderates like former Vice President Joe Biden, former mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobachar would be appealing to some Massachusetts moderates heading into Super Tuesday, according to one attendee.