Is Bloomberg Tipping His Hand?
New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in a speech this morning before a Jewish group in Boca Raton, Fla., defended Sen. Barack Obama against a "whisper campaign" that suggests the presumptive Democratic nominee is really a Muslim:
As I’m sure many of you know, there are plenty of emails floating around the Internet targeting Jewish voters and saying that Sen. Obama is secretly a Muslim — and a radical one at that. Let’s call those rumors what they are: lies. They are cloaked in concern for Israel, but the real concern is about partisan politics. …
This is wedge politics at its worst, and we’ve got to reject it — loudly, clearly and unequivocally. And how can we, as a people, not speak out against demagoguery and stereotype and whisper campaigns? Of all people, we know how hurtful these forces can be. We know the evils they can stir up and the violence they can inflame.
Sen. McCain has done the right thing in denouncing this whisper campaign, which speaks to his character as a stand-up guy and an honest leader. After all, he knows what it’s like to be the target of a whisper campaign. He faced the same slimy, low-ball tactics during the 2000 South Carolina primary.
And in this election, we must all stand up to this whisper campaign against Sen. Obama. That’s because it threatens to undo the enormous strides that Jews and Muslims have made together in this country — and the enormous strides that Jews and African-Americans have made together.
Bloomberg — a former Democrat, a former Republican and current independent — was widely speculated to be considering an independent run at the presidency before laying the rumors to rest in a New York Times op-ed piece. Since then, Bloomberg has been a strong advocate of collaborative, post-partisan politics — a prominent theme in the rhetoric of both major party candidates. He has also been mentioned as a possible — if unlikely — vice presidential nominee on either ticket.
So were Bloomberg’s comments today an indication of which way he is leaning? True, he did praise both Sen. John McCain and Obama, and his statements are consistent with his calls to reject partisan politics. But the fact that he is going to bat for Obama with a demographic — Jews — whose support is crucial in the swing state of Florida — and with whom the punditocracy has declared Obama has a "problem" — could be a sign that Bloomberg is preparing to throw his support behind one of the nominees.