Outside editorial: Independence day for Michael Bloomberg

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2007

You couldn't get a much clearer signal that Michael Bloomberg is seriously considering a third-party run for president than he gave by switching his voter registration from Republican to undeclared. There's little doubt that he'll seize the opportunity if the race appears viable. Good for him. Good for us.

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Bloomberg has built an exemplary record on which to run, both as a businessman and as mayor. He has been pragmatic, nonpartisan and results-oriented, and the hallmark of his administration has been big ideas that have benefited the public. He has gotten things done based on the facts, not on ideology, and not on party label.

And, heaven knows, Bloomberg has the money he would need to enter late and still run an extraordinarily expensive campaign - say a half-billion dollars - without tapping a special interest for a single buck. Think about that, a candidate who took positions on the merits as they added up to him, as opposed to where they fit in the immutable Democratic and Republican catechisms.

Lest we get ahead of ourselves contemplating Hillary vs. Rudy vs. Mike, dreaming of eventually having to choose from an all-New York field, it must be noted that Bloomberg has little national security experience, that third-party candidacies have a way of fizzling like sparklers on a rainy Fourth of July and, obligatory disclaimer, that the mayor says he is not now of the presidential mind.

Bloomberg explained his departure from the Republican Party, which was after all only a short marriage of convenience, as an indication that he intends to finish out his mayoral term governing in nonpartisan fashion both in appearance and reality. He has also said America may not be ready to put a slightly height-challenged, divorced Jewish billionaire in the White House. We don't take him seriously.

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