Springtime for Bloomberg: Could He Carry The Nation?
Mayor Bloomberg’s donation of $125 million to fight cigarette smoking, primarily in developing countries, will certainly save many thousands of lives, possibly millions.
The gift shows the mayor’s unique ability to use his personal resources to accomplish humanitarian and life-saving purposes. This is one factor that differentiates him from the rest of the political world. In this area even the best or most well-known politicians are not able to compete.
A person with that influence and dedication will inevitably be considered for the presidency, if he wants to be. That does not mean he will succeed, but he probably has a better chance to reach the White House than he did of reaching City Hall when, as an unknown private citizen, he quietly began his mayoral campaign in 1999.
Mr. Bloomberg faces the same issue he did in his mayoral race: in which party should he compete. When he ran in New York City, he took over the moribund Republican Party and used it as his political base. The mayor, however, was twice elected on the Republican line.
For 2008 the Democratic and Republican Presidetial nominations appear to be pretty well sewed up by existing contenders or by other party regulars, so Mr. Bloomberg’s candidacy would have to be on an independent line. It is not impossible to qualify for the ballot. Ross Perot did it in all 50 states in 1992 and 1996, polling a remarkable 19,743,821 votes, or 18.9 percent of the total, the highest vote ever for a third party candidate. Many Perot votes were from people who were dissatisfied with both Bush the first and Bill Clinton. More Perotians are considered to have been Bush supporters than Clintonistas, so his candidacy was instrumental, if not decisive, in Mr. Clinton’s victory.
Ralph Nader ran for president three times, his Green Party candidacy peaking in 2000, when he received 2,883,105 votes or 2.7 percent of the national total, running on the left. The vast majority of Nader votes came from Al Gore rather than from Bush II. The Nader vote was greater than the margin between Bush and Gore in seven states including Florida where the vote totals say it with lucidity — Bush: 2,912,790, Gore: 2,912,253, Nader: 97,421, Pat Buchanan: 17,412.The electoral vote, Bush: 271 (including 25 from Florida), Gore: 266.
If he should run for president, Mayor Bloomberg would probably receive millions of votes, drawing from both parties but primarily from Democrats. His total would be reduced if it were felt that he had no chance to win. Nonetheless, the $500 million Mr. Bloomberg is reported to have said he is willing to spend would have substantial impact.
Mr. Bloomberg has certain advantages over other independent candidates — he is not crazy like Mr. Perot or ideological like Mr. Nader. Like the last third party candidate elected, Jesse Ventura, governor of Minnesota, he is a man who has been successful in his own field and is widely known by the public.
He is also likely to run against major party candidates who have negatives. For example, if Hillary Clinton were the Democrat and Rudy Giuliani the Republican, there are people who for various reasons might not care to vote for either. Such a campaign would be a trifecta for New York State, better than the subway series of 2000. That combination is unlikely to occur, but as we have learned in politics as in life, anything can happen.
Even if he is not elected president, Mr. Bloomberg will remain a significant national figure whose substantial resources are likely to be employed for the public good.
At the same time, the earthly job of running New York City has required Mayor Mike to make numerous decisions, a few of which are likely to have been in error, since even he does not claim infallibility. He must rely on the information he receives, some of which is likely to be slanted, self-serving, or inaccurate.
Unhappy events may occur for which he will be blamed, either for the occurrence itself, for his failure to prevent it, for the city’s response, or for his own reaction. That is what it is like being mayor. It is a wonderful job if one knows how to do it and cares enough to do it right.
We think it is a great honor for New York to have three presidential candidates. The three are of different religions, and represent both genders. They are all very intelligent people who have had problems with personal relationships. But haven’t we all.