New York Mayor Bloomberg Endorses Barack Obama for President (UPDATED)
President Barack Obama has yet another endorsement from a political figure who is popular with independent voters and moderates. First came former Bush Administration Secretary of State Colin Powell. And now, in what is a bit of a surprise announcement, comes the endorsement from New York City Michael Bloomberg:
In a surprise announcement, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday that Hurricane Sandy had reshaped his thinking about the presidential campaign, and he announced that he was endorsing President Obama.
Mr. Bloomberg, a political independent in his third term leading New York City, has been sharply critical of both Mr. Obama, a Democrat, and Mitt Romney, the president’s Republican rival, saying that both men have failed to candidly confront the problems afflicting the nation. But he said he had decided over the past several days that Mr. Obama was the best candidate to tackle the global climate change that the mayor believes contributed to the violent storm, which took the lives of at least 38 New Yorkers and caused billions of dollars in damage.
“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast — in lost lives, lost homes and lost business — brought the stakes of next Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,” Mr. Bloomberg wrote in an op-ed article for Bloomberg View.
“Our climate is changing,” he wrote. “And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be — given the devastation it is wreaking — should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.
Mr. Bloomberg’s announcement is another indication that Hurricane Sandy has influenced the presidential campaign. The storm, and the destruction it left in its wake, has dominated news coverage, transfixing the nation and prompting the candidates to halt their campaigning briefly.
More than that, it appears to have given a new level of urgency to a central issue in the presidential campaign: the appropriate size and role of government.
There are now only a handful of political figures who seem to have the aura of independence and not parrots of left or right wing talk shows or hackery talking points. Bloomberg is one of them. So is Powell. And in 2000 Arizona Senator John McCain was as well, but McCain shed that incarnation as he began his future efforts to reach the White House and be re-elected.
The double whammy of Powell and Bloomberg endorsements could have an impact on some independent and undecided voters at a time when it’s being reported that Donald Trump is poised to do some robocalls for Mitt Romney. More from the New York Times:
For months, the Obama and Romney campaigns have sought the mayor’s endorsement, in large part because they believe he could influence independent voters around the country.
Mr. Bloomberg has steadfastly withheld his support, largely because he had grown frustrated with the tone and substance of the presidential campaign – recently deriding as “gibberish” the answers that Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney gave during a debate to a question about an assault weapons ban. He has expressed disappointment with Mr. Obama’s performance over the past few years, and concern about what he has described as Mr. Romney’s shifts in views over time.
In announcing his endorsement, Mr. Bloomberg listed the various steps Mr. Obama had taken over the last four years to confront the issue of climate change, including pushing regulations that seek to curtail emissions from cars and power plants. But the mayor cited other reasons for endorsing Mr. Obama, including the president’s support for abortion rights and for same-sex couples, two high-priority issues for the mayor.
At the same time, Mr. Bloomberg said he might have endorsed Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, except for the fact that the Republican had abandoned positions he once publicly held.
“In the past he has taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care – but he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the very health care model he signed into law in Massachusetts,” the mayor said of Mr. Romney.
But he is ever the independent:
Even in his endorsement, the mayor continued to express criticism of the president. He said that Mr. Obama had fallen short of his 2008 campaign promise to be a problem-solver and consensus builder, noting that he “devoted little time” to creating a coalition of centrist in Washington who could find common ground on important issues like illegal guns, immigration, tax reform and deficit reduction.
“Rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice,” Mr. Bloomberg said of Mr. Obama, “he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it.”
It could be argued the biggest impact of this announcement will be in the Northeast, where Obama needs the least political help. But Bloomberg does have a special status for many independents (remember the big media boomlet about him possibly launching a third party?) and in the news media.
Add to that the imagery yesterday from New Jersey where Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie worked together to try and cope with the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Christie today took a lot of heat from conservative Republicans who in effect accused him of giving aid and comfort to the political enemy (Obama). Christie made it clear he could care less about their criticism because he felt Obama was doing his job on hurricane help.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall has a different take that is worth taking into account as well:
There’s something more than vaguely ridiculous about the ‘news’ that Mike Bloomberg has endorsed Barack Obama. After all, Bloomberg is a Democrat. He was his entire life and a fairly major giver and only become a nominal Republican because of a very weird partisan politics of New York City. And he couldn’t even keep that up for very long as he eventually shed his nominal GOP affiliation and began running as an independent — as a matter of convenience and ballot position in 2009 he ran as a Republican again.
On top of this of course, he appears to agree with President Obama on virtually every major issue of the day. So aside from whatever middle-aged male pissing match kind of mojo these two guys have going on, it’s hard to imagine how Bloomberg could not vote for Obama unless he had the choice to vote for Mike Bloomberg.