Bloomberg Praises Obama
But while Bloomberg did not throw his support behind Obama, the mayor could not help but draw comparisons between Obama and Lincoln, while expressing a broader hope that the presidential candidates would continue to address the issues Bloomberg sees as crucial to the nationâ€™s survival.
[New York News]
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he has a “special place in his heart” for a certain Illinois politician, going so far as to keep a statue of him in the foyer of his Upper East Side home.
That Illinois politician is Abraham Lincoln, though, and not Sen. Barack Obama (D), whom Bloomberg introduced but did not endorse at Cooper Union March 27.
But while Bloomberg did not throw his support behind Obama, the mayor could not help but draw comparisons between Obama and Lincoln, while expressing a broader hope that the presidential candidates would continue to address the issues Bloomberg sees as crucial to the nation’s survival. This follows the theme that he proposed in his Feb. 28 New York Times op-ed officially ending speculation about his own presidential candidacy.
“I have not endorsed a candidate for president,” Bloomberg said to the hundreds gathered in Cooper Union’s Great Hall. “But I’ve been very clear in my hopes that all the candidates will explain in detail how they will handle the great challenges we face in our country.”
Bloomberg has continually said he will push candidates to address issues such as global warming, education and illegal guns. On stage at Cooper Union, he reiterated that belief.
“I’m not sure all of us will agree with everything he says, myself included,” Bloomberg said of Obama. “But it is critical that we know where each candidate stands as we make perhaps the most important decision of our lives next November.”
In praising the mayor’s “extraordinary leadership,” Obama complimented Bloomberg’s style of veering from Washington’s “old ideological battles” and decrying partisan wrangling—a sentiment that could earn Obama the mayor’s endorsement in the near future.
Bloomberg and Obama met at a midtown coffee shop last November in a much-hyped breakfast date that was advertised as the mayor’s attempt to influence the national debate, but seemed to only further fuel speculation about the mayor’s own presidential aspirations.
In today’s speech, Obama said that when picked up the check, he expected a favor in return.
“I have to tell you that the reason I brought breakfast is because I expect payback with something more expensive,” he said. “I’m no dummy. There’s some good steakhouses here in New York.”
Obama said that Bloomberg’s independence signaled a new way of practicing politics.
“At a time when Washington is divided in old ideological battles, he shows us what can be achieved when we bring together to seek pragmatic solutions,” Obama said. “Not only has he been a remarkable leader for New York—he has established himself as a major voice in our national debate on issues like renewing our economy, educating our children, and seeking energy independence.”
The Illinois senator said he admired Bloomberg’s determination to unify the nation in the name of progress.
Since the mayor ended his presidential run, some Bloomberg supporters have shifted their focus to a possible vice presidential run, or a run for governor.
But party tickets and political endorsements were largely absent from Obama’s speech, which zeroed in on Wall Street and the widening fiscal crisis. He made several proposals that would have far-reaching effects for New York’s financial markets, calling for tighter regulation of mortgage lenders in the wake of the housing crisis and broader oversight of banks and brokerage firms.
“Financial institutions must do a better job at managing risks,” Obama said. “It’s time to realign incentives and compensation packages, so that both high level executives and employees better serve the interests of shareholders.”
Although he did not mention his Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama did take the opportunity to criticize the economic policies of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain.
“John McCain recently announced his own plan, and it amounts to little more than watching this crisis happen,” Obama said. “While this is consistent with Senator McCain’s determination to run for George Bush’s third term, it won’t help families who are suffering, and it won’t help lift our economy out of recession.”
After introducing the senator, Bloomberg took a seat in the front row of the audience in the Great Hall. Despite several interruptions for applause during the speech, the mayor, despite listening attentively throughout, did not clap once until the last standing ovation.
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