Michael Bloomberg considers a presidential
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Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire and former New York mayor, is considering making an
independent bid for the presidency, a move that could provide yet another wild turn in a 2016 race that has already seen
more than its share of them.
Bloomberg’s deliberations, first reported
by the New York Times, were confirmed Saturday by several close associates.
has explored the possibility before, always making a pragmatic calculation of whether winning is feasible. Three associates
said that several factors have convinced him that a run outside of the [two larger parties]
is worth another look.
If the right combination of those possibilities begins to look likely
— which Bloomberg thinks could become apparent in March, after the first big round of state primaries — he believes
they could create an opening for him to make a credible run as an independent.
“It’s something that he’s looked at, off and on, for years, and every now and then, he polls.
At one point, he concluded it just couldn’t be done,” said one Bloomberg friend, speaking on the condition of
anonymity because of the political sensitivities involved.
But with the unexpected upheavals
that appear to be taking place in both parties, the friend said: “What you have is some stirrings, and people taking
some fresh looks.” In addition to his considerable financial resources, Bloomberg has a reputation
as a skilled manager and political bridge builder.
Bloomberg made his fortune by founding the financial
news and information company that bears his name. It has made the desktop Bloomberg terminal all but indispensable for those
who make their money off of real-time financial data.
He took office
less than four months after New York was traumatized by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, pledging that the city would
remain “safe, strong, open for business and ready to lead the world in the 21st century.”
When Bloomberg left the post 12 years later, New York was thriving by most measures: The economy
was robust, crime was down, the transportation system was more efficient, and a budget deficit estimated at more than $3
billion when he took over had transformed into a $2.4 billion surplus.
biggest blot on Bloomberg’s mayoral record was authorizing an aggressive policing tactic, known as “stop and
frisk,” which was found unconstitutional by a federal court that said it was used in a discriminatory way against
law-abiding citizens, most of them black or Hispanic.
Should Bloomberg decide to enter the race,
he would be up against a formidable set of challenges, starting with the fact that no third-party contender has ever won
the White House. The most successful of them — including former president Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 and businessman H.
Ross Perot in 1992 — are remembered mostly for having drawn off votes from one of the major parties, throwing the
election to the other.
Bloomberg also is not all that well known outside the political circles
of the Northeast. An April 2014 poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that 18 percent of those surveyed had
a favorable view of him, 28 percent had a neutral one, 26 percent had a negative opinion. However, 28 percent said they
were not familiar with his name or were not sure how they viewed him.
Times reported that Bloomberg has retained a consultant to help him figure out what it would take to get his name on the
ballot in all 50 states, and that he will also do another round of polling after the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary to assess
whether voters might have an appetite for him to enter the race.