Yet again, for the third US presidential election cycle in a row, rumor has it that Michael Bloomberg is about to throw his hat in the ring. The former New York mayor and business mogul ”has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race,” the New York Times reported this weekend (Jan. 23).
Word that Bloomberg is considering a bid has been reported virtually every year since 2006, as David A. Graham wrote for the Atlantic in late October, following a previous Times report that Wall Street big shots were urging the billionaire to go for it. Every time it’s a familiar dance: reporters say Bloomberg is assessing the landscape, pundits praise his qualifications, and then the man vehemently denies he will ever take a White House run for a spin.
Here’s an approximate timeline of how often the billionaire-turned-mayor has said ”no” to a presidential bid:
2006: A cover story from John Heilemann of New York magazine explores Bloomberg’s candidacy, based on conversations with a close circle of his friends and advisers, who said the mayor was weighing his options. “What chance does a five-foot-seven billionaire Jew who’s divorced really have of becoming president?” Bloomberg asked, according to one source.
2007: The then-New York mayor announces in June he is leaving the Republican party, underlining that this does not mean he will run for president. Asked by a reporter if he was considering the option, he says: “If everyone in the world was dead and I was the only one alive? Sure.” Nevertheless, this fuels speculation for the next several months of a new, deep-pocketed third-party candidate.
2008: ”I’m Not Running for President, but …” reads a column from Bloomberg himself in the Times in February. “I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not—and will not be—a candidate for president,” he writes, insisting however, that an independent candidacy is a viable option in US elections.
2010: The Wall Street Journal reports that with Bloomberg’s top political aide moving from New York’s city hall to the mayor’s company, speculation of a presidential bid have been re-ignited once again. In the last months of 2010, Bloomberg says “no” in several different ways to TV hosts, including “no way, no how” and that “nothing” would compel him to run.
2012: As more pundits call for him to run in the year’s election, Bloomberg, who has been critical of Barack Obama in the past, endorses the incumbent president for re-election, crediting Obama’s leadership on climate change following Hurricane Sandy.
2013: “Bloomberg has won,” writes Jonathan Chait at New York magazine as the three-term mayor winds up his last year in office. But in another way, Bloomberg has lost, continues Chait: “The Bloomberg-as-president fantasy has collapsed irretrievably.” In an interview with the same magazine, Bloomberg says: “I am 100 percent convinced that you cannot in this country win an election unless you are the nominee of one of the two major parties.”
2014: In his first year off from political office, Bloomberg had to answer the perennial question again and again, first saying “No is the answer. Plain and simple,” and then diverting the attention to Hillary Clinton. “I think she would be a spectacular candidate on the Democratic side,” he says on CBS’ Face the Nation. ”If I thought I could win, it would be something to consider, but you can’t win, and I’ve given 12 years to public service and I’m not going to be a candidate for president.”
2015 & 2016: In the run-up year to the election, many have floated Bloomberg’s candidacy once again, as the déjà vu goes. So far, Bloomberg has neither confirmed, nor denied the latest rumors.