Bloomberg a dangerous wildcard

Current New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is a dangerous wild card in the upcoming 2008 presidential election. He is especially dangerous toward the hopes of GOP candidates for office, a danger made more real by a recent online report suggesting Bloomberg is willing to spend up to one billion of his $5.5B personal fortune in a third-party bid for the presidency.

The popular media take is that Bloomberg is a change of pace from far-left Democrats and far-right Republicans, because he is socially liberal, fiscally conservative and from the East Coast. Yet that holds no water as a viable difference from at least two, and possibly three, current top presidential contenders.

First of all, Bloomberg is a virtual carbon-copy of top GOP presidential contender Rudolph Giuliani, who has the benefit of running as a major party candidate. Their views are nearly identical and Giuliani has the benefit of receiving a lion’s share of the credit for post-9/11 leadership in New York City. It Giuliani secures the GOP nod, there would be no appreciable difference between the two that would make a Bloomberg run make any kind of sense, other than to split the vote and allow a Democratic presidential victory.

Second is GOP candidate Mitt Romney, currently battling with Arizona Senator John McCain for second place versus Giuliani for the Republican endorsement. Just like Bloomberg and Giuliani, Romney is of the exact same socially liberal, fiscally conservative, East Coast liberal type represented by Giuliani and Bloomberg. Again, a Romney candidacy would provide no contrast for Bloomberg to run against, other than to split the anti-Hillary/anti-Obama vote and ensure a Democratic win. And it should be noted that McCain, while not an East Coast candidate, fits in lock step positionally with Giuliani, Romney and Bloomberg.

In fact, the GOP field is so packed with East Coast social liberal/fiscal conservative candidates, one has to wonder if there’s any hope for the conservative movement in 2008.

But I mentioned a third candidate who – arguably – fits the same mold. I’m speaking, of course, about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. Despite being slightly more liberal than Giuliani, Romney and Bloomberg, some votes actually have Sen. Rodham as more conservative than McCain on select issues. Sen. Rodham-Clinton is basically Mayor Bloomberg on Phentermine.

What I think motivated Bloomberg more than any real, substantive “difference” from candidates like Giuliani, Romnet, Bloomberg and Rodham-Clinton is something far more provincial: a good ol’ New York pissing contest. For the last several election cycles, East Coast candidates – and specifically New Yorkers – have been nonfactors in presidential politics, much to the chagrin of the New York-centric liberal news media. New York has taken a back seat to the deep South as the most influential voting block, and New Yorkers are eager to get back into the game of presidential politics.

Think about it.

Bush II/Cheney: Texas and Wyoming

Clinton/Gore: Arkansas and Tennessee

Bush/Quayle: Texas/Maine and Indiana

Reagan/Bush: California and Texas/Maine

Carter/Mondale: Georgia and Minnesota

Ford/Rockefeller: Michigan and New York.

So, you have to go all the way back to 1974-1977, a brief stint as Ford’s vice president, to find the last time a New Yorker was in the White House. That’s at least a 30 year absence and it’s clear that one of the largest states in the nation is eager to be “back in the game.”

By the way, Rockefeller was, in his day, the leader of the liberal wing of the GOP, so even he fit with the ever-more-bloated socially liberal/fiscally conservative mold that is so well represented in this election cycle by Bloomberg, McCain, Giuliani, Romney and – arguably – Rodham-Clinton.

To be blunt, Bloomberg’s “change of pace” proposed candidacy is no “change of pace” at all – it simply litters the field with another sound-alike candidate designed to blot out any legitimate conservatives from getting a foothold in the 2008 election cycle.

The only real hopes for a legitimate change in rhetoric in this election cycle are Fred Thomspon, Newt Gingrich, or – arguably – a dark horse emergence from someone like Mike Huckabee. Bloomberg doesn’t represent change in any fashion; but a potential third-party run could doom the country to a Democratic presidential victory.

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