Bloomberg for president?


By Richard Norman

These last few weeks there’s been a lot of gossip about New York mayor Michael Bloomberg putting together a potential third party run at the White House. Bloomberg is a socially progressive, fiscally conservative Republican, but much less at home in the Republican party than the similarly self-identifying Rudy Giuliani. Bloomberg is also a billionaire several times over, and not afraid to spend his own money during campaigns. While some criticized the eighty-four million dollars he spent in his 2005 mayoral re-election campaign (more than ten times his challenger), others argued it freed him from the grip of lobbyists and fundraisers. At any rate, he is a very popular politician in New York, the toughest media market in the country (as the Hillary Clinton camp is fond of calling it). Freed from the constraints of the two party system, Bloomberg could spend hundreds of millions of his own money in a presidential bid, potentially stealing votes from both the Republican and Democratic nominees, and coming up the middle to win. Unlike the other candidates who would be forced to spend an ungodly amount of time on the fundraising circuit during the campaign, Bloomberg would be free to organize, host town-halls, and visit local IHOPs to meet and greet ordinary citizens. Money simply wouldn’t be an issue (his joking definition of good financial planning, according to friends, is making sure the check to the undertaker bounces when it’s finally time to go). It sounds good. But money isn’t everything, and this is all more of novelty idea than a substantial one, as a recent article at makes clear.

Bloomberg would have to win the presidency on his own merits. His chief merit, his chief selling point, would be his competence. He can get things done around the nation, he will tell voters, as he has gotten things done in New York. Which is also Rudy Giuliani’s chief selling point. And, now that you mention it, Hillary Clinton also stresses competence and experience, as does John McCain, as does Mitt Romney, as do several other candidates. Nor, outside of New York City, is Bloomberg the household name you might think he is. A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted last week showed that 35 percent of registered voters nationwide had never heard of him. Only 23 percent had a favorable view, while 14 percent had an unfavorable view and 27 percent were unsure.

Although there has been some griping from extremist elements in both the Democratic and Republican parties (the left can’t find a mainstream candidate willing to put George Bush on trial as a war criminal and the right can’t find a mainstream candidate who walks on water), I think the current field of presidential candidates is very deep. Both parties have highly qualified, competent, and substantial candidates. And one more, even if he’s very, very rich, won’t turn anyone’s head. Click here to see a Politico slideshow of previous American third party presidential candidates. –Richard

3 thoughts on “Bloomberg for president?

  1. I actually think the crop of current US candidates is awful. I want someone who has foreign policy experience of some sort and has a basic understanding of what American history is.

    To that end, the only candidate – and he hasn’t even declared, and might not – that I consider serious would be Newt Gingrich. He’s the only one with a sense of how the principles underlying the Constitution inform American history, and he takes the power of the executive seriously.

  2. Hi Nick…the Jewish aspect is actually mentioned in the original politico article, and I agree that until there’s an exception to the WASP rule (aside from Kennedy) this sort of consideration should be taken into account (by armchair campaign managers especially)…one interesting related observation are Mitt Romney’s newish poll numbers in Iowa where he has a 10+ point lead over the next highest polling candidate. Even though something like 30% of Americans say they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, he appears to be doing very well in places where people can get a chance to meet him…

  3. Like Bill Clinton, Bloomberg would be a very intellectual President. Bloomberg is obsessed with data collection and using econometric methods to figure out the optimal policy, a refreshing change from asking God for guidance or going with your gut. I think one problem he and Rudy would have is that as Mayor you seem to have more power to act unilaterally, while as President you have to deal with a divided house and senate. The other unmentionable is that he is Jewish – don’t know if America is any more ready for a Jewish President than an African American or Woman President. Lieberman didn’t hurt Gore, but he didn’t help him either (certainly failed him in Florida where he was supposed to help him seal up the retired East Coast Jewish vote).

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