On the eve of next week's New Hampshire primary, Bloomberg will meet in Oklahoma with politicians who consider themselves like-minded nonpartisans for a conference described as a warning to the Republican and Democratic candidates. The NY Times reports.
''They want the major party candidates to promise not to be partisan or they won't be happy? Come on -- it's a gesture, it's a show,'' said Maurice Carroll, who runs the polling unit at Quinnipiac University. ''It's an event to get attention and put Bloomberg front and center, where he can stay if he feels like it.''
The first stirs of Bloomberg presidential speculation came about two years ago when his political adviser, Kevin Sheekey, began floating the concept. The idea gained steam last June when the mayor left the Republican Party, became an independent and began promoting himself around the country and on his relaunched personal Web site.
If he were to get into the race, advisers have said it wouldn't happen until the Democratic and Republican nominees are known. At that point, Bloomberg's camp would assess how his message of a centrist Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent would play against those candidates.
Bloomberg supports gay marriage and abortion rights, has sued out-of-state gun dealers as part of his national campaign for gun control, and has not shied away from raising taxes and fees to deal with a city budget crunch.
At the gathering in Oklahoma on Jan. 7, Bloomberg will sit down with friends like Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who has been mentioned as a potential Bloomberg running mate. Besides Boren, other participants include former Republican Sen. Bill Brock of Tennessee, former Defense Secretary William Cohen and former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida.
Organizers said the group planned to issue a ''set of principles'' for the declared candidates.
Graham, who ran for president in 2004, told The Associated Press that the meeting ''is not a third-party effort.'' He also said he didn't think an independent candidate could get elected.
''We have enough problems getting consensus with the two parties -- our goal is to make suggestions on how to make the current system work,'' Graham said.
Bloomberg usually plays coy when asked about the latest ''Bloomberg for president'' stirrings, but last week he made the rare move of acknowledging his interests when he was asked about a New York Post story that his advisers were reaching out to potential campaign consultants.