The 2016 edition of Michael Bloomberg’s vintage “Maybe I’ll Run” game largely revolves around his friend Hillary Clinton.
Bloomberg’s camp let it be known only three years ago that he had pushed the unlikely prospect of Clinton running to succeed him as mayor.
Clinton still calls him a friend.
As for his own chances, consider what Bloomberg told New York magazine as he departed City Hall in 2013:
“I am 100 percent convinced that you cannot in this country win an election unless you are the nominee of one of the two major parties. The second thing I am convinced of is that I could not get through the primary process with either party.”
But Bloomberg clearly considers himself entitled to one last presidential-speculation bubble.
The billionaire mayor-by-way-of-Wall Street signals a predictable disdain for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-styled socialist polling strongly against Clinton on the Democratic side.
Bloomberg also opposes fellow New York billionaire Donald Trump on immigration and other issues.
But of the two unorthodox candidates, it would seem that Sanders may vex Bloomberg more — especially since the ex-mayor has a proven affinity for Clinton that he does not have with any GOP candidate.
Mark Green, the veteran Democratic activist and author, was asked if he thought Bloomberg & Co. were floating the possibility of a candidacy just to help Clinton.
“Is he doing this as some kind of Trojan horse? No,” replied Green, who lost a close 2001 mayoral race to Bloomberg. “He cares too much about his stature and legacy for that.”
Green said that, “if there’s a New York finale, with Clinton against Donald Trump, my educated guess is that a grounded centrist like Bloomberg would vote for and endorse a grounded center-left candidate like Clinton. But should it look like Trump and Sanders are the nominees in late March, who knows?”
Businessman John Catsimatidis, a major political donor and Clinton friend who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for mayor in 2013, said: “What if something does happen to Hillary? I think at that point he jumps in, and maybe it pays for him to run as a Democrat. It doesn’t pay for him to run as an independent. All you can be is a spoiler, like Ross Perot.”
Bloomberg’s cheerleaders began pushing his name for president during the run-up to the 2008 election. Bloomberg chose to pop that bubble only once the primaries were well underway.
The White House speculation was stoked again for the 2012 cycle, sputtered to an end along with his controversial third mayoral term.
Bloomberg wound up endorsing President Barack Obama for re-election — only eight years after hosting and endorsing George W. Bush for re-election.
Now he’s 73 and perhaps facing his last shot at this type of attention.
One former Bloomberg aide told a reporter of the latest leaks and speculations: “You’ve been down this road before, have you not?”