Speculation About a Bloomberg VP

After throwing water all over the rumors he had originally been encouraging, talk of a Michael Bloomberg independent candidacy is starting to spread slowly once again. Here New York Press magazine speculates about potential running mates for Bloomberg, should he decide to take the plunge…

Ballot laws would let presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg hold off on picking a running mate until late summer, an option he may well exercise if he is spending the time until then introducing himself and his candidacy to the rest of the nation.

The name most often mentioned by insiders is Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican who has become one of the leading critics of the Iraq War and President George W. Bush’s management of the military. Hagel’s background as a Vietnam War veteran and champion of veteran’s rights has given his war critiques added weight. Hagel recently withdrew his name from his own possible presidential candidacy, and from another Senate race.

Hagel could add conservative credibility to the more liberal-leaning Bloomberg, but he could provide two other important balances as well. An immensely popular Midwesterner, Hagel won his second term in the Senate in 2002 with 83 percent of the vote. A better geographical counterpart to the mayor of New York would be hard to find.

Perhaps more important, Hagel has extensive experience in Washington and in foreign affairs as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As Bloomberg’s vice presidential candidate, he could give the ticket the international relations experience lacking from the Bloomberg resume.

And the two do seem to agree on the broad strokes of the foreign policy challenge for the next administration. Speaking at Cooper Union September 25, Bloomberg offered this general insight: “This country’s in big trouble and somebody’s got to pull it out. We’ve lost our relationships with the world,” he said. “Somebody’s got to go out and rebuild those relationships.” Hagel echoes those themes when he spoke at New York Law School October 11 about the need to do just that. He added that an independent presidential candidacy might be the way to get this and other national priorities restored in a country he says has been off-balance since the 9/11 attacks. “I think it would make sense,” Hagel says in an interview. “I would welcome a strong, viable, accomplished independent candidate into the race.”

Asked whether he thought Bloomberg made sense as the candidate to fit this bill, Hagel spoke enthusiastically of the mayor’s prospects. “I think he’d be a very good president,” Hagel says. He praises Bloomberg’s record in business and government, and notes the power that derives from a large personal fortune.

“That doesn’t qualify him to be president, but it certainly helps him get there, because you need those kind of funds to do it,” Hagel says. “I think it would be revitalizing, and I think it would be a renewing time for American politics, to shock the two major parties a bit. And I think that’s what this country wants.”

Several other names have been floated, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has developed an alliance with Bloomberg on environmental initiatives. And while the constitution prohibits the Austrian-born former movie star from serving as president, no such ban exists on the vice presidency. (It could mean, however, that Schwarzenegger would be passed over in the line of succession, giving the presidency to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the event that Bloomberg were unable to serve.) Scwharzenegger’s celebrity, though, could prove a drawback if he ended up overshadowing the less bombastic Bloomberg on the campaign trail. And though the votes he could help deliver in California might be a benefit, the possible Constitutional debate over succession issues would be an unwelcome distraction to a campaign trying to establish itself.

“Traditionally, you try to balance the ticket geographically,” says Ed Rollins, a political consultant who served as campaign manager to Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot.

But referring to Bloomberg’s limited experience in foreign policy, Rollins says: “I think he needs to put someone on who has the credential that he doesn’t have.”

Some believe Sam Nunn could be that candidate, a moderate conservative Democrat who served four terms as senator from Georgia and chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee. But Nunn has already been out of the Senate for a decade, an absence that could hurt his recognition value to voters.

Hagel may well be the likeliest prospect, and did not deny that the idea of joining Bloomberg on an independent ticket had crossed his mind—though he insisted that things had not gone further than that.

“I have not had any serious conversations with Mayor Bloomberg on this,” he explains. “We’ve talked, we’ve had dinner, but we’ve never gotten down into depth with that.”

Asked whether he would accept if asked, Hagel says he does not deal in hypothetical questions.

“I don’t anticipate that I’ll be on any ballot for any office next year,” he says, adding: “But this is an unpredictable business.”

12 Responses to “Speculation About a Bloomberg VP”

  1. Ray Hannigan Says:

    I read on the internet that Imperato was thinking about having Bloomberg as his Vice President.

  2. Jackcjackson Says:

    I read that Bloomberg offered to be Imperato’s running mate, but Imperato turned him down. At dinner Matt Damon told Imperato he still has a chance to talk Clooney into being his VP.

  3. Nanci Pelosi Says:

    MoveOn.org pressures Congress to stop fighting fire and bring firemen home

  4. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Imperato/Putin 2008

  5. Dan Says:

    Imperato and Larry Craig would be a good team.

  6. Asher Heimermann Says:

    Mike Bloomberg / Joel Osteen

    Asher Heimermann
    Wisconsin’s Youth Activist
    http://www.AsherHeimermann.com

  7. G.E. Smith Says:

    Bloomberg/Milnes

  8. Jason Says:

    Bloomberg/Flint 2008

  9. Jason Says:

    that should be Flynt

  10. Anthony Distler Says:

    Bloomberg/Colbert ‘08

  11. Jay Harris Says:

    Although all of us are joking around I would like to see Imperato/Barr 2008, with Imperato and Former Congressman Bob Barr

  12. Jay Harris Says:

    Then again, Daniel Imperato and George Clooney would make a good team.

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