New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, an independent, issued a surprise endorsement of President Obama's re-election Thursday, pointing to the president's belief in global warming.
The announcement, which comes five days before the election, provided an unexpected late-game boost to the president's campaign. Mr. Bloomberg did not endorse a candidate in 2008 and he has criticized both Mr. Obama and his GOP rival Mitt Romney, saying in an interview with the New York Times a few weeks ago that both men's economic plans "are not real."
But Mr. Bloomberg said Hurricane Sandy and the president's handling of it brought the race into "sharp relief."
"Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be – given this week's devastation – should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action," Mr. Bloomberg wrote in his endorsement, which was published on Bloomberg News's website under the heading "A Vote for a President to Lead on Climate Change."
The endorsement was especially surprising considering Mr. Bloomberg last publicly backed then-President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004. A longtime Democrat, Mr. Bloomberg jumped ship and joined the GOP before running for mayor in 2001. He didn't leave the Republican party until 2007 when he became an independent.
Reacting to the news, Mr. Obama said he was "honored" to have Mr. Bloomberg's support.
"I deeply respect him for his leadership in business, philanthropy and government, and appreciate the extraordinary job he's doing right now, leading New York City through these difficult days," the president said in a statement.
"While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time – that the key to a strong economy is investing in the skills and education of our people, that immigration reform is essential to an open and dynamic democracy, and that climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it."
In his piece on Bloomberg News' website, Mr. Bloomberg also specifically praised Mr. Obama for pushing policies aimed at reducing carbon-based pollution, including higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks and tighter controls on mercury emissions.
These steps "will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year," he wrote.
Republicans, including Mr. Romney, have criticized Mr. Obama's environmental policies, accusing the president of waging a war on coal that has led to higher energy prices and mining industry job losses during an already tough economy.
Mr. Bloomberg made no mention of the loss of thousands of jobs in the coal industry as a result of Mr. Obama's stricter rules. Instead, he said Mr. Romney also had taken steps to reduce global warming during his time as governor of Massachusetts but has since reversed course.
"I believe Mitt Romney is a good and decent man, and he would bring valuable business experience to the Oval Office," he wrote. "He understands that America was built on the promise of equal opportunity, not equal results."
Not any more, Mr. Bloomberg claimed: "In the past, he has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts."
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