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Campaign notebook

Bloomberg won't run for president

Michael Bloomberg said he might lend his support to a candidate who takes an independent approach. Michael Bloomberg said he might lend his support to a candidate who takes an independent approach. (Associated Press/File)
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February 28, 2008

NEW YORK - After two years of playing coy about his presidential ambitions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he will not run for president as an independent, declaring in a newspaper editorial that he might lend his support to a candidate who "takes an independent, nonpartisan approach."

The 66-year-old billionaire businessman, who aides had said was prepared to spend $1 billion on his own campaign, wrote in a New York Times editorial this morning that he will be working to "steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance."

"I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run," Bloomberg wrote, "but I am not - and will not be - a candidate for president."

Bloomberg, who grew up in Medford, Mass., has two years left in his second term at City Hall. He had publicly denied any interest in running for president since a political adviser planted the seed two years ago.

But his denials grew weaker in recent months as aides and supporters quietly began laying the groundwork for a third-party campaign.

Among his biggest obstacles was getting on the ballot, a process that varies significantly from state to state and would have required him to obtain hundreds of thousands of signatures according to a timetable whose first key date is March 5.

Bloomberg's preparation for a presidential bid was extensive. The work included mass polling and nationwide data collection to determine his viability as a candidate.

Associates had said in recent days that Senator Barack Obama's rise in the Democratic contest against Senator Hillary Clinton was increasingly diminishing the chance that Bloomberg would run.

In the Times editorial, posted online last night, Bloomberg wrote that while he is not running, the race is too important for him to stay completely out.

"And so I have changed my mind in one area," he said. "If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach - and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy - I'll join others in helping that candidate win the White House."

Putting his endorsement - and wealth - behind a candidate could make a significant difference. And Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, has ties to Obama, Clinton, and Republican Arizona Senator John McCain.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rights leader switches support to Obama
WASHINGTON - Civil rights leader John Lewis formally dropped his support for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid yesterday in favor of Barack Obama.

Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Atlanta, is the most prominent black leader to defect from Clinton's campaign. He also is a superdelegate who gets a vote at this summer's national convention in Denver.

Two weeks ago, he had said he was planning to switch his vote as a superdelegate to Obama. He formally endorsed the Illinois senator yesterday.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Clinton holding off on release of tax returns
CLEVELAND - Hillary Clinton said she won't release her tax returns until she has the Democratic presidential nomination in hand, and not before tax-filing time comes in mid-April.

"I will release my tax returns," Clinton said during a debate Tuesday night with Democratic rival Barack Obama. "I have consistently said I will do that once I become the nominee, or even earlier."

Pressed about the timing of releasing her tax returns, campaign aides were more reticent, indicating that Clinton would not release the sensitive financial data during a hotly contested primary, but only at tax-filing time.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

7.8 million watched Democratic debate
Tuesday's Democratic debate on MSNBC wasn't just the most-watched program in the cable network's history. It also drew the fourth-most total viewers of any program that night, broadcast TV or cable, and was beat in its time slot only by "American Idol" and "Back to You," the Fox sitcom at 9:30.

The debate drew 7.8 million viewers, making it the third-rated debate this political season.

JOANNA WEISS

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