Saturday, September 18, 2010
Bloomberg Pushes Moderates in National Races - NYTimes.com
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — In an election year when anger and mistrust have upended races across the country, toppling moderates and elevating white-hot partisans, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is trying to pull politics back to the middle, injecting himself into marquee contests and helping candidates fend off the Tea Party.
New York’s billionaire mayor, whose flurry of activity is stirring a new round of speculation about his presidential ambitions, is supporting Republicans, Democrats and independents who he says are not bound by rigid ideology and are capable of compromise, qualities he says he fears have become alarmingly rare in American politics.
Next month, Mr. Bloomberg will travel to California to campaign for Meg Whitman, the eBay entrepreneur and Republican running for governor on a platform of corporate-style accountability and fiscal prudence. He visited Rhode Island on Thursday to champion Lincoln D. Chafee, a Republican turned independent who is locked in a three-way battle for the governor’s office.
And, in perhaps the mayor’s most direct confrontation with a Tea Party candidacy, he will host a fund-raiser at his Manhattan town house for Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader facing an unexpectedly forceful challenge from Sharron E. Angle, a political neophyte backed by Sarah Palin.
In his first extensive interview with a newspaper in several years, Mr. Bloomberg outlined his plans, which will include raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for candidates and represent his greatest involvement in a national election since he entered public life a decade ago.
Mr. Bloomberg described the Tea Party movement as a fad, comparing it to the short-lived burst of support for Ross Perot in 1992. The mayor suggested that the fury it had unleashed was not a foundation for leadership.
“Look, people are angry,” he said. “Their anger is understandable. Washington isn’t working. Government seems to be paralyzed and unable to solve all of our problems.”
“Anger, however, is not a government strategy,” he said. “It’s not a way to govern.”
Mr. Bloomberg said he wanted to see more of the cooperation once displayed by Senators Orrin G. Hatch and Edward M. Kennedy.
He said that while he would not have voted for either of them (“one because he’s too liberal for me, one because he’s too conservative for me”), Mr. Bloomberg added, “These two guys who went into the Senate together and were the closest of personal friends for 40 years, they were everything that democracy says a senator should be.”
Bloomberg's strong support of the downtown Manhattan Islamic community center may be seen as part of his positioning himself in the center, attempting to syphon away moderate votes from Obama in 2012 and centrist voters turned off by the Republican parties recent pandering to right wing extremist and bigots.
John H. Armwood