As we suspected, PR man Howard Rubenstein was the force behind a drive to convince Mayor Bloomberg to undergo a politically risky end run around term limits and run for a third term. “Considering what’s been going on in the economy, I felt it was my obligation,” he told us this morning. “It was a confluence of things,” he explains. “I had clients, dozens of my clients, all wanting the same thing.” Especially the big ones: developers Jerry Speyer and Steve Ross, chairman of the ABNY Bill Rudin, Rupert Murdoch, etc.
But the “galvanizing moment” was just recently, Rubenstein said.
Two weeks ago, when Lehman went under and AIG seemed on the verge of implosion and the economic darkness was coming upon us, Rubenstein’s megawealthy clients were panicking. And so was he. “I lived through a lot of bad times,” he said. So Rubenstein, as he’s done for the last 50 years in business, decided that by putting the right people together, he might be able to help. It wouldn’t be all that hard, considering the right people were his clients. There was only one who posed an obstacle: Ronald Lauder, who fought for term limits in the first place. “Ronald has been a client off and on for years,” Rubenstein said. He organized a breakfast between Lauder and Bloomberg, where Bloomberg was able to sway him by writing a “sunset provision” into the law (which decreed that if a candidate wanted to change the limits again, they’d have do it two years in advance, and by referendum). Bloomberg wasn’t too hard for Rubenstein to get a hold of, either: “His company” — Bloomberg LP — “has been a client for years,” he said. And that’s, more or less, how it happened. “They’re all clients,” he said.