2.28.2008

Bloomberg confirms he is not running, and people finally believe him

After months of speculation during which NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg repeatedly denied any plans of running for President while taking steps that seemed to contradict his declarations, he finally put an end to rumors by writing in a New York Times op-ed that he would not jump in the race. "I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president," Bloomberg wrote.

With Barack Obama and John McCain now looking favored to win their parties nomination, the general election will feature two candidates who emphasize the need to bring the country together, to transcend partisanship and not look necessarily in line with the party and its priorities. Whether or not those things are true, the fact remains that Bloomberg was hoping to capitalize on divisive and ultra-partisan figures winning the nominations (especially Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney) to jump in, spend millions of his own money and seduce the independents.

Joe Lieberman and Chuck Hagel -- two Senators who had been flirting with Bloomberg for the past few years -- had implied recently that there was no need for a Bloomberg candidacy now that McCain had emerged as the GOP nominee. And the same logic was applied to Obama's rise. Unity08, the group devoted to electing a non-partisan/bipartisan ticket and that was seen as the ideological backbone of a Bloomberg candidacy, announced at the end of 2007 that it was taking a break and cited the rise of the Illinois Senator as proof that its message was functioning: "Barack Obama, for example, has made the theme of unity and the necessity of bridging the partisan divide an absolutely central theme of his campaign."

In his op-ed, Bloomberg confirmed that McCain and Obama's ideological positioning had weighted in on his decision, and he appears so satisfied as to even consider jumping in on behalf of one of the candidates:

I have watched this campaign unfold, and I am hopeful that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership... If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.

It is difficult to say who Bloomberg would have drained most votes from, so that there is no clear sense of who is the most relieved by this announcement. A former Democrat who ran as a Republican before dropping any party affiliation last year, Bloomberg would have emphasized economic issues, drawing on a pro-business orientation that usually favors Republicans. Many voters who typically vote GOP but who are going increasingly Democrat because they are uncomfortable with the Republicans' social stances could have been attracted to Bloomberg's candidacy. Most polls that were taken with Bloomberg showed him hovering around the 10% mark, drawing perhaps a tiny bit more votes from the Republican than from the Democrat.
But yet again, Bloomberg demonstrated in NYC that he can appeal to Democratic voters as well, which could have caused trouble for that part's nominee.

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