Last month in an appearance on Meet the Press, New York Times columnist David Brooks said that Mayor Bloomberg might be “counterproductive” as a spokesman for gun control because the movement needs to win over “rural and red America.” As Frank Rich put it: “Translation: He’s an East Coast Jew.” Bloomberg shot back at Brooks in a Sunday interview with the Washington Post, saying, “Incidentally, just define David Brooks … As I remember, he’s got to be in the 1 percent — the amount of money he makes as a columnist. I don’t know where that came from.” He also provided more fodder for Brooks, saying of gun rights advocates who think the government is out to get them, “the general public that thinks this is meshugana.” But supposedly, Bloomberg is fine with others taking the lead on his pet issue. “And so we’re not going to be the star,” Bloomberg said. “My interest is in having this done. I don’t need to get credit for it.”
Of course, Bloomberg still wants to play a large role in the push for stricter gun laws, but he’s content to let his super-PAC do the talking. In the last election Bloomberg donated $10 million to five candidates who oppose the NRA and four won. “It seemed effective, and I’m certainly going to take a good, hard look at next time,” says Bloomberg. “You can organize people, I can write checks.”
That’s not to say that Bloomberg is following anyone else’s lead on the issue. While many fellow gun control advocates think they’ll need to vote out Republicans to get reforms passed, the mayor believes that if the GOP can have a change of heart on immigration, they can do the same on guns. “Somebody got them the way they are now,” he says. “Why can’t you change them?” It did take the loss of a presidential election for some Republicans to change their tune on immigration — and the shift has yet to result in any new legislation — but if anyone has the time and money to devote to a longshot effort like breaking up the GOP and the NRA, it’s Mayor Bloomberg.