Talk persists of Bloomberg US presidential run

* Bloomberg, in New Hampshire, tries to downplay buzz

* Money and record of competence as NY mayor are assets

By Ros Krasny

BOSTON, July 18 (BestGrowthStock) – New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, one of the richest men in America, says his views
are too polarizing for him to become president of the United
States.

But analysts say however much he may protest, conditions
may be gelling for Bloomberg, who came close to standing for
the White House in 2008, to run in 2012 as an independent.

Voter distaste for both the Democratic and Republican
parties and perceptions of government incompetence on big
issues, from the Iraq war to the Gulf oil spill, could herald a
new chance for the three-term mayor.

“He’s got the right climate and he’s got the money.
Resources are always an issue for third-party candidates, but
Bloomberg has got that covered,” said Tom Jensen, director of
Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Bloomberg, 68, is a fiscal conservative with liberal social
views who is formally an independent. He combines proven
political skills with business acumen and has drawn high
ratings for his job running New York City.

It is two-and-a-half years before the next presidential
election in November 2012. Democrat Barack Obama is expected to
seek a second term but is now struggling with low polling
numbers and the Republican field is wide open.

TEASING ANSWERS

At a speech in New Hampshire on Friday, Bloomberg, as he
always does, dismissed suggestions that he intends to run but
failed to kill the speculation.

“Only my girlfriend and my mother would support me. And
I’m not sure about my mother,” he quipped. “If the press is in
the back — no, I’m not running. I want to make that clear.”

Still, the comments, and the speech’s setting, did little
to silence the buzz.

Bloomberg was kicking off a “presidential lecture series”
(actually named for the president of Dartmouth College, who was
present) in the state which traditionally holds the first
primary vote in the presidential election.

White House hopefuls often visit New Hampshire to test the
waters for their campaign long before the election.

Asked about a presidential bid, Bloomberg said his liberal
views on issues like abortion and gay rights were out of the
current American mainstream.

“I’m pro-choice. I’m pro-gay rights. I’m pro-immigration,
I’m pro-gun control. I believe in Darwin,” he said. These views
are anathema to many in a Republican Party that is increasingly
conservative and laced with fundamental Christian beliefs.

Bloomberg has said he is committed to serving as mayor
until his term ends in 2013 and would then leave politics and
become a full-time philanthropist.

But it did not go unnoticed that Bloomberg has employed as
a political strategist Howard Wolfson, who served as a senior
aide on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid.

BLOOMBERG’S WEALTH

Bloomberg is the founder of Bloomberg LP, the financial
news and media company. Forbes magazine estimates his net worth
at $18 billion, the eighth-highest in the United States.

“Bloomberg has a really strong competency argument. The
approval rates for both parties are in the 20 to 30 percent
range now, extremely low. The climate right now is perfect for
someone like Bloomberg to run,” Jensen said.

A lifelong Democrat who turned Republican to run for New
York mayor in 2001, Bloomberg left the Republican Party to
become an independent in 2007, a move some interpreted then as
preparation for a presidential run.

“A successful mayor of New York with lots of resources and
lots of ambition should never be counted out,” said Charles
Franklin, political science professor at the University of
Wisconsin in Madison and co-founder of pollster.com.

Jensen compared a potential Bloomberg 2012 run to the U.S.
Senate campaign of Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a Republican
who decided to run as an independent after polls showed him
trailing another, more conservative Republican.

The last significant third-party presidential bid was by
Texas businessman Ross Perot, who received 18.9 percent of the
popular vote — about 19.7 million votes — in the 1992
election won by Bill Clinton. He won 8 percent in 1996.

Unlike Perot, Bloomberg brings with him a track record of
winning elections. A Quinnipiac University poll published June
30 showed him with a 57 percent to 33 percent approval rating
as New York’s mayor.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta and David Storey)

Talk persists of Bloomberg US presidential run