Bloomberg in Turns Overconfident, Self-conscious During Presidential Exploration


A new book by veteran New York journalist Joyce Purnick, Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics, sheds some light on the internal deliberations of Team Bloomberg as they mulled an independent presidential bid in 2008. On the one hand, Bloomberg could have positioned himself as a moderate consensus candidate at a time when America was growing tired of bitter partisanship. Also, he had a shitload of money, and was willing to spend it. And even though he’d never articulated a position on the war in Iraq, and he’d never held national office, Bloomberg wasn’t worried about his foreign-policy chops. “I know more about foreign policy than any of the candidates,” he claimed at one point, which is a pretty ballsy statement considering that John McCain and Joe Biden had served in the Senate for a combined four hundred years.

On the other hand, Bloomberg didn’t have what you might consider a typical presidential biography, and he knew it. “What chance does ‘a short, Jewish, divorced billionaire’ have on the national stage?” DLC founder Al From recalls Bloomberg asking. Ultimately, it came down to his viability. Not only was he a short, wealthy, divorced Jew, but since he wanted to run as an independent and appeal to moderates, his chances of success always depended on who the other parties nominated. Had the Republicans and Democrats chosen two candidates that appealed more to their bases, Bloomberg may have sensed a real opportunity. But as we know, they did quite the opposite, and John McCain and Barack Obama effectively cockblocked Bloomberg from sliding into the center. Even at that point, Bloomberg adviser Kevin Sheekey wanted his boss to go for it, and had “lined up a presidential campaign staff-in-waiting, putting former Bloomberg workers on the alert in case the mayor gave the nod.” But everyone else, in the campaign and on earth itself, knew he no longer had any shot. He would have to settle for another term as mayor, where his foreign-policy acumen would go woefully unappreciated.

Exclusive: ‘See Mike Not Run’ [Politico]