Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bloomberg President in '08

After the Iowa caucus last week
the rumor is that Bloomberg may
be thinking about throwing his hat
in the ring. What are his changes?
Here are a few articles to answer
that question.

Gabe's View: Bloomberg For President?

The rumors are flying that Mayor Michael Bloomberg may run for president as an independent candidate.
Moderates Seek 'Shock Therapy' Candidate The best guess seems to be that he wants to run but won't do it unless he has a reasonably good chance of winning.
The mayor's meeting next week in Oklahoma with prominent Democrats and Republicans who are dissatisfied with both the Republican and Democratic candidates seeking the presidency has stirred widespread speculation about his intentions and his chances, if he decides to run.
What the talk about Bloomberg makes clear is that many responsible Democrats and Republicans are fed up with the campaign -- and they crave a new approach. Former Democratic Sen. David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma, where the meeting will be held, said: "It's not a gathering to urge any one person to run for president or to say there necessarily ought to be an independent option."
But -- and it was a big but -- Boren added: "If we don't see a refocusing of the campaign on a bipartisan approach, I would feel I would want to encourage an independent candidacy."
Bloomberg has an important advantage over the candidates who are already running. He doesn't need to raise money. Reportedly, he's ready to spend a billion dollars of his own money if he runs. That points up the advantage he would have over the rest of the field. It also makes clear that, as a self-financed candidate, he is unique. And his personal fortune sets him apart not only from other candidates but from the voters as well. Those Americans who are just poor Joes eking out a living may find it hard to relate to a billionaire. Yet here in New York, people have had no difficulty pulling the voting lever down for Bloomberg. Once they got to know him, his money was no obstacle.
The boom -- or boomlet -- for Bloomberg reflects not only his positive qualities -- independence, strength, managerial ability -- but widespread disillusionment with the major party candidates. This long, seemingly never-ending campaign has not electrified voters. No one candidate stood out in the almost boring series of debates and retail campaigning around the country. Partly, I think, journalists are at fault for not pressing harder to find out what voters are concerned about and how well candidates are meeting their concerns.
From a historical perspective, independent candidates have not done well in presidential elections. Notably, Teddy Roosevelt, a popular president, failed when he ran as an independent on the Bull Moose ticket.
Bloomberg could turn out to be a spoiler. If he runs as an independent, he could lose while destroying the campaign of one of the major party candidates.
Yet Mike Bloomberg is a stubborn and resourceful man. He is altruistic. His philanthropies make that clear. If he runs, will he be aiming too high? He apparently doesn't think so. Our mayor loves challenges and, if he decides to meet this one, he will either fall on his face or surprise the world.

Strategy session: Could Bloomberg enter in the middle?
By: Costas Panagopoulos Dec 11, 2007 08:08 PM EST

An independent Bloomberg candidacy could add to the chaos of the tumultuous 2008 election cycle.

Just when one may have been tempted to believe the presidential nomination races on both sides of the aisle were settling, developments in recent polls signal everything remains up in the air. In Iowa, Mike Huckabee has surged past Republican front-runner Mitt Romney by anywhere from 3 to 22 percentage points, according to the most recent polls. Polls show Romney leading in New Hampshire, but a McClatchy/MSNBC poll conducted Dec. 3-6 shows the former Massachusetts governor’s lead in the state has eroded considerably; the poll found support for his candidacy is at its lowest level since late September. Polls show Huckabee has catapulted himself in Nevada, where his support jumped from 2 percent in October to 23 percent on Dec. 6, according to surveys conducted by ARG, as well as in South Carolina, where every poll conducted this month shows him in the lead by significant margins. Even in national polls, where Rudy Giuliani has reigned supreme for months (at least), Huckabee now places second, according to a Dec. 3 New York Times/Bloomberg poll of likely voters, trailing the former mayor by only 6 points. Not only is Huckabee on the rise, but he is surging at the perfect time — just a few weeks before the first contests and just as most voters are tuning in and paying attention. Should he sustain — or build on — this growth in support, Huckabee is poised to ride a tidal wave of momentum going into the all-important contests on Feb. 5. Not to be outdone, recent rumblings on the other side of the aisle are generating a fair share of Democratic hullabaloo. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama seems to have resurrected his campaign in Iowa and now New Hampshire and is giving New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a run for her money in both states. A Newsweek poll conducted Dec. 6 finds Obama leading Clinton by 6 percentage points in Iowa, and a Dec. 6 McClatchy/MSNBC poll finds the two candidates neck and neck in New Hampshire. And that was before Oprah took to the stump on Obama’s behalf in these key states. So what does this all mean? Well, among other things, as the odds of an Obama-Huckabee general election matchup get stronger, so does the likelihood that Michael Bloomberg will jump into the presidential race. Aides close to the New York City mayor have indicated repeatedly that Bloomberg is most likely to toss his hat into the ring if both parties nominate candidates from the extreme ideological wings of their parties. There is little doubt that Huckabee would fit that description on the Republican side. It may be a bit more murky for Democrats, but there is ample evidence that Obama is a more liberal alternative to Clinton. Even as Clinton may personify a bleeding-heart liberal for some voters, the two senators’ voting records suggest something very different. An analysis of 2006 roll call votes in the U.S. Senate conducted by the National Journal in March 2007 found Obama to be the most liberal Democratic senator currently running for president — far more so than Clinton, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd or Delaware Sen. Joe Biden. That may well explain Obama’s appeal to many Democratic primary voters, but he will certainly not be able to run away from it in a general election campaign. And Obama’s location on the ideological spectrum is surely no secret to the Bloomberg camp, which seems only too eager for the conditions to be just right in order to jump into the race (his aides reportedly have been planning such a scenario for months). While Bloomberg aides haven’t mentioned any names, an Obama-Huckabee matchup may be just the ticket that draws the mayor into the national contest. It’s doubtful any of this was discussed in last month’s Bloomberg-­­Obama breakfast meeting of the minds at a diner in New York. For one thing, the nature of the race was far different back then. Two weeks can bring about a sea change in American politics. As speculation about a Bloomberg run grows, analysts seem to think an independent candidacy by the mayor could have potential. A Dec. 7 article in the New York Sun indicates experts believe a billion-dollar Bloomberg campaign could put as many as 23 states in play and has the potential to deliver as many as 312 of the nation’s 538 electoral votes (and thus the presidency) to Bloomberg in 2008. An independent Bloomberg candidacy could add to the chaos of the tumultuous 2008 election cycle. At the moment, things seem to be moving in this direction.

Talk Transcript: Meacham on Bloomberg
NEWSWEEK Editor Jon Meacham joined us on Friday, Nov. 9 for an hour-long discussion on what Bloomberg's childhood past can tell us about his political future.
Newsweek Web Exclusive

In this week's cover story, NEWSWEEK's Jon Meacham traces the path that has taken New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg from his boyhood in the Boston suburbs to a career as successful businessman turned politician. Will Bloomberg's route culminate in a stop at the White House?
Click here to read the cover story
Jon Meacham: Hello, I'm Jon Meacham and I'm looking forward to answering, or trying to answer, some of your questions about the Newsweek cover this week.
Bellevue, WA: Are there any historical situations that are similar to the one that Bloomberg is in now? Any examples from history that would give us a clue as to what will happen from here?Jon Meacham: What really interests me about a possible Bloomberg presidential bid is that it has few, if any, historical precedents. We have had rich guys who thought they should be president, we have had businessmen who thought they should be president, and we have had any number of officeholders who thought they should be president. Bloomberg is the first to be all three---and to say (or at least Kevin Sheekey, his political adviser, says) that he would spend $1 billion on an independent bid. That kind of money, spent by a man with Bloomberg's mayoral experience, makes comparing him to Ross Perot a true apples-and-oranges exercise.
Athens, GA: What sense did you get from talking to Bloomberg in regards to what his intentions are for the future?Jon Meacham: I think he is going to wait until February or March of 2008, look at who the major-party nominees are, and then decide two things. First, can he win? He does not want to run as what the political types call a "spoiler." He needs to be convinced that he could get the necessary electoral votes to win in the Electoral College. And if he is convinced of that, then he faces the second decision: Should he run? My sense, and it is just a sense, is that Bloomberg wants to run for president. There is nothing in his life story to suggest that he would step back from a challenge.
Fairfax, VA: It's interesting to think about the possibility of Hillary, Rudy and Bloomberg all ending up in the same race. But it also strikes some of us as Northeast Corridor fantasyland. Given the shift in political power south and west in the country, why does the media seem to believe that the election will be an all-New York affair? Jon Meacham: Great question. (But isn't "Northeast Corridor fantasyland" redundant?) Serious answer: I think the attacks of September 11 and the Iraq War have scrambled most of the understandably conventional assumptions about presidential politics in our time. I grew up in the South as Reagan solidified the shift from Democrats to Republicans, and I think you are exactly right when you talk about the gradual but real power shift west as well. But interestingly, there is no Sunbelt governor or former governor (Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush) in the serious running this time. With security and competence as the overarching issues, I think (and it is just that, a thought) that ordinary geographic and even cultural considerations are playing a far smaller role than in the last quarter century. Think about it: the leading Republican candidates include a pro-choice former mayor of New York and a former governor of Massachusetts who is a Mormon; the Democrats include a First Lady-turned-New York senator and a young senator from an ethnically and culturally diverse background. This is, as Eleanor Roosevelt said of 1940, no ordinary time.

Arlington, VA: Do you think a third party candidate could ever have a plausible shot at the White House? It seems like the American electoral system largely rules out that possibility.Jon Meacham: It is tough, tough, tough, but nothing is impossible. The Founders made it difficult for anyone to be elected president (remember, they drafted the Constitution before they knew for certain that two parties, or any parties, would emerge), but the wonderful thing about history lies in its capacity to surprise.
New York, NY: Do you think Bloomberg has enough name recognition outside of New York City to make a serious run? It seems like Guiliani already has taken claim to the New York City Mayor identity. Will that be a problem for Bloomberg?Jon Meacham: I don't want to be overly flip, but it would not take Mike Bloomberg long to buy all the name recognition in the world. If he really is willing to spend $1 billion (of his own money), the real problem may be how viewers of television or web users could avoid the guy.
Boise, ID: You wrote that you regard Bloomberg as one of the leading showmen on the political stage today. He certainly seems like a competent leader, and one that has cooled the racial tensions that flared up on his predecessor's watch. But the few times I've seen him on CSPAN he seems like a pretty flat speaker, and a guy who lacks the flair of some of our more colorful politicians. What am I missing? Jon Meacham: You're right in that he is no Lincoln or Reagan or Bill Clinton. There can be a kind of laconic quality to his formal speeches. But people have also seen him pull off really impressive rhetorical turns. He won't ever win, I think, on his poetry, but if the country were in the mood for a man with a strong grasp of the prose of politics, he would probably be a very viable possibility.

Published: June 24, 2007
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG of New York insisted yet again last week that he did not intend to run for president in 2008, even as he left the Republican Party to become an independent. Then, on Friday, he tweaked his language somewhat, simply saying, “I’m not going to be president.”
Which opens the door to a Swiftian modest proposal, one that might appeal to any billionaire independent presidential candidate who knows the art of a deal: Rather than try to win the White House outright — a long shot — an independent candidate could instead try for a king-making (or queen-making) bloc of votes in the Electoral College.
In doing so, a moneyed candidate like Mr. Bloomberg could advance his post-partisan national agenda — and gain a great deal of power — by introducing coalition politics to America’s system of government, through a power-sharing plan that catapults either the Republican or Democratic nominee to the presidency. Here’s how it might work:
With the nation divided into red and blue as it has been in the last two presidential elections, all a rich, self-financed candidate would have to do is win a big state (or two) to ensure having a king-making bloc of electoral votes: say, Florida (the decisive state in 2000), or Ohio (2004), or maybe New York (Mr. Bloomberg’s home state), or California (that of his friend, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Mr. Bloomberg spent $84 million in 2005 to win re-election as mayor. In 2008, a wealthy candidate could spend five times that (or 10 times, as some Bloomberg associates suggest he might do) to run for president. Under this hypothetical scenario, the money would support a targeted advertising campaign to sell an Electoral College strategy to voters. (You wouldn’t even need to get on the ballot throughout the country.)
The essential pitch to voters: Washington is broken, and we need to find a third way. Elect an independent for president.
But instead of running a national campaign, the independent candidate strives to win the electoral votes of only a few states. This idea is a stretch by the conventional wisdom of American politics, of course. But before 2000 nobody dreamed the Supreme Court would decide a presidential election, either.
“An Electoral College showdown, however improbable, would make the wild ride of the Florida recount look tame,” said Paul A. Beck, a professor of political science at Ohio State University.
There is some historical precedent for a king-making scenario. In 1968, George C. Wallace, who rose to prominence as the anti-integration governor of Alabama, ran for president as an independent; his plan was to exploit fractures in the Democratic Party and win enough Southern states and electoral votes to foist his agenda on a major-party nominee or throw the election to the House of Representatives. He carried five states in the Deep South — not enough; Richard M. Nixon won handily. The segregationist Strom Thurmond pursued a similar strategy in 1948, winning 39 electoral votes (nowhere near enough to thwart Harry S. Truman’s storied come-from-behind win).
More recently, both celebrities and rich men have demonstrated the popularity or financial wherewithal to persuade voters in this hyperkinetic news media environment to circumvent politics-as-usual: Mr. Schwarzenegger; former Gov. Jesse Ventura of Minnesota; Jon Corzine, the former senator and current governor of New Jersey; and Mr. Bloomberg himself.
Mr. Bloomberg’s aides say he has no plans to be a kingmaker. Yet suppose an independent candidate with unlimited means carried New York in the general election on Nov. 5, 2008, winning a sharply divided vote among three home-state politicians (with Mrs. Clinton as the Democratic nominee and Rudolph W. Giuliani as the Republican). And suppose the Democratic and Republican nominees split the other 49 states and the District of Columbia in a way that left both just shy of an Electoral College majority (270 votes) without New York’s 31 votes.
With his king-making bloc of votes, an independent candidate could broker a deal with one of the candidates, European- or Israeli-style. Cabinet posts could be divvied up (say, Senator Chuck Hagel as defense secretary). Specific policies and spending commitments would be agreed to (say, plans for immigration and health care, two top national priorities for the mayor).
NOW, here’s where one or two or 100 lawyers come in. This reform-minded disbursement of power could be guaranteed by a legally executed contract with a hefty cash bond if the eventual president reneges. (There’s nothing barring this in the Constitution.)
The clock would be ticking. A deal to throw the decisive electors to one candidate or the other must be struck in the six weeks before several hundred electors cast their votes in their individual states on Dec. 15, 2008.
A big wild card is the loyalty of the independent candidate’s slate of electors (though perhaps they could be well-compensated by the self-financed campaign). If New York electors gathered in Albany to cast their electoral votes but began peeling off as they cut their own political deals, the grand bargain would be sunk.
“Electors are generally trustworthy, but formal attempts to bind them haven’t been tested that much,” said John C. Fortier, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor of “After the People Vote.”
If no candidate achieves a majority in the Electoral College, the election would be decided in the newly elected House of Representatives, where each state’s Congressional delegation would have one vote for president.
The Democrats currently dominate 26 congressional delegations to the Republicans’ 20; the 4 other states have an even split of members at this writing. If that partisan split were to hold after Election Day 2008, the Republican presidential candidate would have a huge incentive to make a power-sharing deal so the election never fell to the House.
“If he gets it into the House, a Democrat is going to win the presidency, because they have the votes pure and simple,” said Mario M. Cuomo, the former Democratic governor of New York, who is noncommittal on the presidential race at this point.
A few dozen extra federal judges might be needed on the bench to adjudicate all the potential legal complications. And an independent candidate might find his convictions sorely tested.
“The challenge for him is how a candidate who wins some states by being above partisan politics can engage in the kind of wheeling and dealing that may be necessary for him to actually determine who becomes the president, and under what conditions,” said Mr. Beck of Ohio State.
Yet for an independent-minded politician like Mr. Bloomberg who looks and speaks and acts like a presidential candidate, the lure of the free-for-all election in 2008 may prove irresistible. Being a mayor is one thing; being a president is another; and being behind the throne — well, to paraphrase one New Yorker, Mel Brooks, it’s good to be the kingmaker.

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