Bloomberg Makes Speech and Therefore Definitely Sort of Almost Running for President

Meanwhile back on earth, history says neither he nor fellow rumor magnet Andrew Cuomo will end up in the Oval Office
Sarah Laskow | December 9th, 2010

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg made a speech yesterday, dinging Washington on economic issues and jobs creation. He touted the growth of New York City’s economy, and he mentioned the American Dream.

He must be running for president.

As for Andrew Cuomo…well, he’s headed for Albany with an agenda that appeals more to Republicans than to his own party, isn’t he? The man can barely cough without having it interpreted as a sign of his national ambitions.

He must be running for president.

Has it crossed both men’s minds? Of course. In Bloomberg’s case, he actively pursued the option in 2008. If you believe New York magazine, he’s actively exploring a run in 2012. And as often as the mayor denies that his thoughts are wandering in that direction, he stages a stunt like yesterday’s speech to reignite speculation about his next big gig.

But if (when?) either of these New Yorkers takes the plunge into a presidential race, do they stand a chance of gaining traction across the country, and taking over the Oval Office?

No. As much as it’s fun for New Yorkers and the New York media to speculate that one of their own might claw his or her way into the highest office, New York is just not a place that incubates presidents, anymore.

Let’s start with the reality that the last New York politician to make it to the White House was Franklin D. Roosevelt, and before that, Uncle Teddy. (And yes, Hillary Clinton made a go for it, but New York was more of a stop-over than a stomping ground for her.) Like Cuomo, the Roosevelts had roots in New York and experience in New York government. But a century ago, that wasn’t quite the liability it is today. To turn his stint in Albany into an asset, rather than a liability, Cuomo will, more or less, have to work miracles — balancing the budget, corralling corruption (or at least the appearance of it), and returning the New York State government to something resembling a functioning entity.

Bloomberg’s tenure in New York City, on the other hand, has mostly given him a positive platform for his signature centrist pitter-patter. But as much as the mayor would like to believe otherwise, that’s not what wins national elections. In 2012, he would be, at best, a spoiler, a sort of super-charged Ralph Nader for the coastal elite. When considering Bloomberg in a presidential light, the most important data point to consider is not his work on education reform, his talk about jobs, or his green-friendly, bike-lane loving development plan.

It’s that question that Quinnipiac asks New Yorkers every year: Would you want the mayor at your house for Thanksgiving? The answer is always no. But in a big way, that’s what a presidential campaign is — hanging out in the living rooms of families in states like Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Bloomberg’s more comfortable in board rooms. The noise about his presidential prospects won’t quiet down anytime soon. But it’s unlikely to crescendo into that hand-clapping, feet-stomping roar that heralds a presidential victory.