Saturday 25 November 2017

Bloomberg rejects independent run for president - no way, no how

Toby Harnden and Alex Spillius

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York has set a limit on his career ambitions to quash growing speculation that the billionaire mogul might launch an independent bid for the White House in 2012.

"No way, no how," Mr Bloomberg declared on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday. "I've got a great job."

He said he wanted to focus on the rest of his term as mayor, which ends in 2014, emerging as "a very good, maybe the greatest mayor ever".

Mr Bloomberg's frequent public comments on the need for bipartisanship in Washington as well as private urgings from some of his senior aides have fuelled talk that he could run against President Barack Obama in 2012. The mayor flirted with running for the White House in 2008.

In a speech in New York last Wednesday, Mr Bloomberg, 68, a lifelong Democrat who became a Republican before becoming an independent in 2008, blasted liberals for thinking that the US government could create jobs on its own. He then laid into conservatives for trusting too much in unfettered free markets.

Mr Bloomberg insisted his comments had nothing to do with a possible presidential run. "I am going to speak out on those things that affect New York City. That's my job."

He called on any aides whispering about a possible run to "cease and desist" immediately.

"People will say 'Oh, you shouldn't be talking on the national level,' " the mayor went on. "Well we created 55,000 private-sector jobs in New York in the last 12 months. That's much greater than the percentage we should create with our population."

Peter Fenn, a senior Democratic strategist, suggested that Mr Bloomberg might have accepted the reality that the electoral system was stacked against an Independent.

"To win he would need a Republican candidate who self-destructed and Barack Obama to be in deep, deep trouble, neither of which is impossible, which is why he has been keeping his options open.

But he added: "It is very difficult to win as a third party candidate and I don't see him as a protest candidate. He won't spend a billion dollars just to make a point."

Dan Gerstein, a Democratic consultant based in New York, said: "There is a vacuum in that there has never been a better time for an Independent presidential candidate to exploit the many people in the middle who are upset with both parties."

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