Mayor Bloomberg raps both candidates but may endorse one

Commentators from both sides of the Atlantic offer sharp analysis on the US election campaign.

New York's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg has endorsed neither candidate so far in the presidential race but in the New York Times today he had, said the paper, "sobering words for both".

Mayor Bloomberg

For Romney: “I do think that Romney’s business experience would be valuable, but I don’t know that running Bain Capital gives you the experience to run the country.”

For Obama: “This business of ‘Well, they can afford it; they should pay their fair share?’ Who are you to say ‘Somebody else’s fair share?’ ”

For both: “Their economic plans are not real. I think that’s clear.”

Mayor Bloomberg this week became the newest billionaire “super PAC” donor., vowing to spend millions supporting candidates willing to do what he implied Obama and Romney were not: taking “leadership and standing up to do things that aren’t going to be popular.”

His new group, Independence USA PAC, now officially unveiled , has pledged to spend up to $15 million in the next two weeks on state, federal and local candidates whose views align with his in support of gun control, same-sex marriage and overhauling public schools.

He said that was that “getting your feet wet,” and said he wanted to provide a financial bulwark for those who occupy his definition of the political centre.

The Times said the mayor was seeking to give the candidates a taste of the political freedom that he has enjoyed as a self-financed billionaire whose money helped him withstand the powerful opposition he faced because of his unpopular initiatives. These include a smoking ban and an 18 percent raise in property taxes.

Bloomberg felt Obama and Romney they were too hemmed in by partisan obligations and special-interest intimidation to tackle problems head on.

“If you listen to what they say, they never get explicit,” he said.

Bloomberg endorsed George W. Bush in 2004, but in 2008, he declined to make an endorsement.

He is more likely said the Times to agree with Obama than with Romney — on same-sex marriage, climate change and abortion rights — but expressed disappointment with the president’s leadership.

“I am more in sync with President Obama’s views on social issues,” he said. “I will say that I don’t see as much action as I would like, and it’s nice to be on the side that I think you should be on, but unless you do something, so what?”

He said Romney was wrongheaded for opposing raising taxes as part of a budget deal.

“You cannot balance the budget without raising revenue and cutting expenses,” Bloomberg said. “There is no reputable economist that remotely thinks you could do this.”

Bloomberg is upset at both candidates' lack of action on gun control.

“Romney passed a law, signed a law, in Massachusetts banning assault weapons, and today says, ‘No,’ ” he said. “And Obama campaigned on introducing legislation to ban assault weapons, and then did absolutely nothing.”

Bloomberg suggested they were cowed by the National Rifle Association, which has endorsed Romney.

The point of his super PAC, he said, was to provide “spine” for politicians under that sort of pressure.

Despite his reservations on Romney and Obama, he said, he mayor has not entirely ruled out endorsing one of them, said the Times "unlikely as that may seem".

Bloomberg, founder of the Bloomberg media giant, is worth an estimated $22 billion, according to Forbes, and has been mentioned as a future Treasury secretary.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.