Newspaper article International New York Times

Will Bloomberg Run?

Newspaper article International New York Times

Will Bloomberg Run?

Article excerpt

The former mayor knows that presidential campaign history is littered with failed runs by third-party candidates.

Once again, Michael R. Bloomberg is eyeing a run for the White House. Once again, he's got the political world buzzing, the pundits pontificating. Once again, the country is waiting for him to decide yea or nay.

Why again? Well, why not? This is Mike Bloomberg we are talking about -- a man who has wanted to be president since his college years, when he told friends at Johns Hopkins that he was interested in three jobs: secretary general of the United Nations, head of the World Bank and president of the United States. They never forgot, convinced he was dead serious.

The former mayor of New York, 74 next month, always wanted to be his own boss, never wanted to work for anyone else, and has said so outright, whenever his name was floated for a cabinet post or the equivalent. Even in his first job out of graduate school, at Salomon Brothers, he told his bosses he could do a better job of running their company than they could.

Mr. Bloomberg preached change. He said that investors wanted data, news and analytics in real time, and pushed for smaller desktop computers. History would prove him right, but he was demoted to the information-technology department and, a few years later, was dismissed after a merger.

Departing with a $10 million golden parachute, he used some as seed money to start his company. It created the wildly successful Bloomberg terminal -- and so the Bloomberg empire was born. Since then, he has always been his own boss, always run his own thing. And why, he may be asking himself, couldn't that thing now be the United States of America?

During the 2008 presidential campaign, he told associates he was sure he could do a better job than the Democratic and Republican nominees, Barack Obama and John McCain. One of his advisers talked about "a billion-dollar campaign" -- the same figure bandied about now.

He wanted to run in that race. That winter, he flew to the University of Oklahoma to be a headliner at a conference on bipartisanship with figures like the former Democratic senator Gary Hart. But Mr. Obama's upset win in the Iowa caucuses pulled attention away from Oklahoma.

Seeing no way to win, Mr. Bloomberg did not run then, or in 2012. Though hugely ambitious, he is also risk-averse: careful, calculating, protective of his reputation and his privacy.

He also hates to lose, and does everything he can to ensure he does not. To run for mayor, he prepared intensively for two years before the election. Bored with making money and intrigued with the notion of managing a city, he hired advisers, debriefed former mayors, visited neighborhoods, took polls. Helped mightily by his wealth (he spent $74 million), the city's desire for strong business leadership after the Sept. …

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