Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine if Groundhog Day had the same running time as Gone with the Wind. That, in essence, was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's presidential non-bid, in which he repeated over and over and over again that he was not a candidate.
Still, a couple of interesting things came out of Bloomberg's op-ed in the New York Times today, in which he repeated, again, that he's not running.
He said that he might endorse a candidate for president. He also clearly enunciated what he's looking for in a candidate (and what his campaign would have advocated had he sought the presidency).
From looking at what he wrote, I'd say there's a chance he endorses either McCain or Obama (or Clinton). At the very least, he wants to give the impression that he hasn't made up his mind.
Here's what he wrote:
"They must know we can't fix our economy and create jobs by isolating America from global trade."
Bloomberg's support of free trade places him in agreement with McCain, as both Obama and Clinton have emphasized their doubts about NAFTA.
"They must know that we can't fix our immigration problems with border security alone."
McCain, Obama and Clinton all would probably agree with that statement, although McCain's recent conversion to the view that border security should come first may put him at odds with Bloomberg.
"They must know that we can't fix our schools without holding teachers, principals and parents accountable for results."
McCain is more supportive of No Child Left Behind than Clinton or Obama, although Obama is more sympathetic to merit pay for teachers than most Democrats.
"They must know that fighting global warming is not a costless challenge."
Bloomberg favors a carbon tax. All three of the major contenders want a cap-and-trade system, which isn't quite a carbon tax.
"And they must know that we can't keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals unless we crack down on the black market for them."
Here's where McCain loses. Clinton and Obama are much more sympathetic to gun control than the Arizona senator, although I doubt either of them will emphasize it very much in the general election.
So, who comes out ahead? It's hard to say. One big question is how the Democratic nominee finesses trade.
Take Obama, for example. He's running well against McCain in a handful of states that Bush won in 2004, such as Iowa, Colorado and Virginia.
In the Rust Belt, in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, he doesn't seem to be as strong. If Obama is having trouble in those places in the fall, he'll probably be more tempted to argue that trade agreements have pushed jobs oversees. That might alienate Bloomberg, but it also might be a smart calculation.
After all, why would Bloomberg's endorsement matter much, unless some $100 million checks to 527 groups come along with it? If he really wants to influence the presidential race, he should move to Ohio.
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