New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg – a political independent who has played a prominent role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – has delivered a big boost to President Barack Obama by endorsing him for re-election.
Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat who became a Republican to run for Big Apple mayor in 2001 and ran as an Independent for re-election in 2009, said that Hurricane Sandy had helped reshape his thinking about the presidential campaign.
He had been pointedly critical of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, saying that both men had failed to address properly the problems afflicting the nation.
But Michael Bloomberg said in recent days he had decided that Barack Obama was the best candidate to tackle climate change, which the mayor cited as a contributory factor to the violent storm that took the lives of at least 38 New Yorkers and brought carnage costing billions of dollars.
“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast – in lost lives, lost homes and lost business – brought the stakes of next Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,” Michael Bloomberg wrote in an article for his own website Bloomberg View.
“Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be – given the devastation it is wreaking – should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”
The timing of the endorsement is unexpected because Michael Bloomberg this week publicly called on Barack Obama to resist visiting New York this week because the city was too busy dealing with the disaster.
But his backing is the latest indication that Hurricane Sandy could be a big factor in Tuesday’s election.
Barack Obama has already used it to burnish his bipartisan credentials and a Washington Post/ABC poll found that 80 per cent of voters viewed his actions favorably.
Republicans dismissed the endorsement saying that Michael Bloomberg, as the epitome of the monied east coast elite, would hardly sway voters in the mid-West battleground states.
But there is little doubt that the Romney campaign would dearly have loved to have had the New York mayor’s backing.
Barack Obama said in a statement: “I am honored to have Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement. I deeply respect him for his leadership in business, philanthropy and government, and appreciate the extraordinary job he’s doing right now, leading New York City through these difficult days.”