- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2007

Perils of Bloomberg

Now officially in a Republican-free zone, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg assured a restless press corps yesterday that he would run for president only under certain conditions.

“If everybody in the world was dead, and I was the only one alive, yeah, sure,” he said with a cunning smile.

Should he mount a serious bid for the White House, it would be at his own peril, David Frum of National Review Online said yesterday.

“The first loser would be Mike Bloomberg himself. He will have to spend somewhere between $75 and $150 million to run a serious race, almost all of it from his own fortune. And since there is virtually zero compelling rationale for his race — quick: what does Mike Bloomberg stand for? — it’s impossible to imagine that he will win anything more than the 1 percent or 2 percent of the vote that is always available to fringe candidates like Ralph Nader or Jerry Brown.

“The next loser will be the charities and philanthropies Bloomberg might otherwise have supported with his campaign expenditure. It’s generally estimated that Bloomberg has donated about $150 million per year to charity over the past decade. It seems plausible that the money for his campaign will be taken from his philanthropy budget. If so, rather than supporting good works in the field of public health, millions of Bloomberg dollars will be dissipated on essentially a vanity project.

“The likely winners? The consultants, pollsters, and advertising directors who — having failed to get a piece of the action from the major presidential campaigns — will keep their children in private school and themselves in expensive timepieces with Bloomberg’s money,” Mr. Frum said.

Perot effect

A presidential run by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg would siphon off votes from the Democratic nominee, said Greg Mueller, an adviser to both Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes during their presidential campaigns in the 1990s and 2000, and president of CRC Public Relations.

“If Bloomberg gets in the race, he will take more votes from the Democrat nominee, certainly if it is Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama — than a conservative GOP candidate,” Mr. Mueller said yesterday. “There are many, many independents, and some Democrats, who will simply not vote for Senator Clinton under any circumstances. And, there are still others who feel Senator Obama is too inexperienced. Bloomberg gives these voters a place to go dividing the Democrat vote.”

Mr. Mueller added, “Bloomberg could be to Senator Clinton or Senator Obama in ‘08 what Ross Perot was to President George H.W. Bush in ‘92.”

Still, polls indicate that it might matter who Mr. Bloomberg’s competition is.

Bloomberg is contemplating running at a time when the brand names of the two major parties is not doing well,” said pollster Scott Rasmussen, whose poll shows that 51 percent of New Jersey voters would consider voting for him, while just 23 percent would not. “The number of people considering themselves Republicans has dropped to the lowest level of the Bush era and the number of Democrats has just declined to the lowest level in 17 months.”

According to Rasmussen’s poll of New Jersey voters released yesterday, Mr. Bloomberg would fare best in the state against Mr. Obama and former Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican. In that hypothetical, Mr. Bloomberg ties Mr. Obama at 32 percent, and Mr. Thompson lags with 20 percent.

But he would not do as well against the two major parties’ front-running New Yorkers. In that scenario, Mrs. Clinton leads with 38 percent, followed by former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at 29 percent and Mr. Bloomberg at 21 percent. And a Quinnipiac University poll, conducted last week and released yesterday, found that among New York state voters, Mrs. Clinton led at 43 percent, followed by Mr. Giuliani at 29 percent and Mr. Bloomberg at 16 percent.

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