Bloomberg endorses Obama, citing climate change, hurricane

NEW YORK (JTA) – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Obama for reelection, citing climate change and New York’s experience with Hurricane Sandy.

In an Op-Ed published Thursday by his eponymous news service, Bloomberg wrote that the hurricane that devastated his city “brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.” He wrote, “President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks.”

He added that Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, also “has a history of tackling climate change” but that he has since “reversed course” on this and other issues, citing gun control, immigration, abortion and health care.

Bloomberg’s endorsement comes at a time when he is at the center of national attention as his city grabbles with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The billionaire founder of a financial news and information firm, Bloomberg has been elected to three terms as mayor of the country’s largest city. The first two times he ran as a Republican, but in 2007 he switched his party affiliation to independent, though his name appeared on the Republican line in the 2009 mayoral election. Before entering politics, Bloomberg was a registered Democrat.

He is known for a business-friendly orientation, an activist approach to municipal governance, and liberal stances on issues like gun control, same-sex marriage, immigration and climate change. This election cycle he has given generously to candidates from both parties whom he considers centrists. Bloomberg had been widely reported to be considering running for president himself, though he denied having any plans to run. He had been wooed by both Obama and Romney.

While he was endorsing Obama, Bloomberg also had some criticisms for the president.

“If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing,” Bloomberg wrote in his Op-Ed.

He accused Obama of having “devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists” and said he “engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it.”

But Bloomberg added that Obama also had “achieved some important victories on issues that will help define our future," citing the Race to the Top education program and his health care law, which Bloomberg wrote that, “for all its flaws — will provide insurance coverage to people who need it most and save lives.”

Bloomberg also cited the candidates’ differences on same-sex marriage and abortion, which he said, “given the likelihood of Supreme Court vacancies, weighs heavily on my decision.” And Bloomberg noted the candidates’ contrasting positions on same-sex marriage, which he strongly supports.

“Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both found success while their parties were out of power in Congress — and President Obama can, too," Bloomberg concluded. “If he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates, he can fulfill the hope he inspired four years ago and lead our country toward a better future for my children and yours. And that’s why I will be voting for him.” 

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