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Why’d Mike Refuse to Endorse?

McCain, Obama pursued his promised favor, to no avail.

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When Mayor Bloomberg announced he wouldn’t run for president in a February Times op-ed, he said he’d endorse the candidate who “takes an independent, nonpartisan approach—and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy.” (He’d backed W. in 2004.) Both Barack Obama and John McCain pursued the prize, appearing with the mayor, praising him, and calling for advice on economic issues. But then—nothing. Aides say that Bloomberg never came close to backing either, and they acknowledge his considering doing so was designed to increase his leverage for the city’s agenda. “To a significant degree, it’s worked,” says his spokesman Stu Loeser. Bloomberg withheld endorsements from Hillary Clinton and Eliot Spitzer in 2006, explaining that he’d “have to work with whoever gets elected.” “He really likes to keep open all of the channels” that could benefit the city, says Bill Cunningham, Bloomberg’s former spokesperson. “He might have thought about endorsing, but why mess with success?”

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