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Clinton camp silent on possible Bloomberg run
John Byrne
Published: Tuesday June 19, 2007
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In response to a question asking whether Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) welcomed an independent challenge from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Clinton press secretary Phil Singer offered a one line reply to RAW STORY: "No comment."

Billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday he was quitting the Republican Party, sparking immediate speculation he was plotting an independent bid for the White House in 2008.

Bloomberg, who could pump tens of millions of his own dollars into a campaign, has the capacity to shake up the wide-open presidential race, already replete with huge political personalities and multi-million dollar war chests.

The 65-year-old, who founded a global financial news agency that bears his name, has denied he is planning a White House run, but has conspicously declined to definitively rule one out.

He made his announcement while on an visit to vote-rich California, and paid a private weekend visit to New Hampshire, a key electoral state with an important independent voter block, tweaking suspicions of political observers.

"I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party," Bloomberg said in a statement.

"Although my plans for the future haven't changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city," said Bloomberg, who was elected as a Republican, and is an ex-Democrat.

Bloomberg spent millions of his own dollars to be elected mayor, and as 142nd richest man in the world according to Forbes magazine, would likely do so again if he ran for the presidency.

He has said he will serve out his full term until 2009 as mayor of one of the world's most dynamic cities, and has proved a popular figure in New York.

A White House bid would raise the possibility of an intriguing all-New York election -- with the long-shot assumption that current front-runners New York Senator Hillary Clinton and former mayor Rudolph Giuliani win the Democratic and Republican nominations.

Though speculation was already rampant among US political observers and professionals that Bloomberg will run for president, third-party candidates traditionally face huge odds.

A political earthquake would be needed for Bloomberg to capture the White House, but third party candidates have a key potential role as a spoiler.

Yet with opinion polls showing Americans believe their country is on the wrong track, angry with both Republican President George W. Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress, a Bloomberg candidacy has its attractions.

"A nonpartisan approach has worked wonders in New York: We've balanced budgets, grown our economy, improved public health, reformed the school system and made the nation's safest city even safer," Bloomberg said in his statement.

Bloomberg is believed to have spent more than 150 million dollars of his own money to get elected as New York mayor in 2001 and again in 2005.

He has recently elevated his national profile on key issues, unveiling a national energy conservation initiative last week in Texas and spearheading the national coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

He has hosted international climate change talks in New York, headlining the event with former president Bill Clinton, polishing already considerable green credentials.

He recently appeared on the cover of Time Magazine with Hollywood tough guy turned California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger, who has emerged as a skilled politician after eschewing his formerly partisan approach.

Schwarzenneger, unlike Bloomberg cannot become president by virtue of his foreign birth, but has been carving out a national political profile.

With a liberal social record and appeal to independents, Bloomberg would appear more of a threat to split the Democratic vote in any national race than threaten Republicans.

Third-party candidates have recently had a controversial role.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is still criticized by some Democrats who believe his Green Party campaign in 2000 cost former vice president Al Gore votes in the disputed election handed to Bush by the Supreme Court.

In 1992, another rich businessman Ross Perot, ran an idiosyncratic independent campaign, which some analysts believe fractured the conservative vote and helped Clinton oust then president George H.W. Bush.

With wires.