Climate change on the agenda as Bloomberg backs Obama
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg throws his weight behind the President. Will it make a difference?
NEW YORK mayor Michael Bloomberg has endorsed Barack Obama in the US presidential race. With his city reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, he cited climate change as the main reason for his decision.
He made the announcement in an op-ed piece for Bloomberg.com in which he said the devastation caused by the storm had "brought the stakes of Tuesday's presidential election into sharp relief".
He said the scenes of devastation in New York and the surrounding areas "should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action" on man-made climate change. The choice therefore was simple: one candidate "sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not."
Bloomberg also praised Obama for his stance on gay rights and abortion. But he added that the president had failed to live up to the high hopes of 2008 and had "embraced a divisive populist agenda".
For the Washington Post, this was hardly a ringing endorsement and suggested Bloomberg might have an ulterior motive. "[He] is clearly interested in staying in the national political conversation beyond the close of his third term in 2013... and by inserting himself into the presidential race he furthers that goal."
The Atlantic suggested Bloomberg was being disingenuous - he had already made up his mind to support Obama before Sandy struck.
It was doubtful, the magazine argued, that Americans would be swayed by the views of "a prickly, unapologetic East Coast elitist".
However, if Romney loses the 6 November election, Bloomberg’s intervention might come to be seen as a symbol of the failure of the Republican’s campaign.
"If a wealthy, successful businessman who turned to public service late in his career and made his name as a pragmatic, realistic, numbers-based policymaker can't win Michael Bloomberg's vote, what's the point?"
The New York Times sees it differently. "Both the Obama and Romney campaigns had aggressively sought the mayor's endorsement, in large part because they believed he could influence independent voters around the country," it says. "[It] is another indication that Hurricane Sandy has influenced the presidential campaign. The storm and the destruction it left in its wake have dominated news coverage, transfixing the nation."
The Guardian said that Bloomberg's stated reason for backing Obama was the real eye-opener. "The stunning snub to Mitt Romney, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, at a stroke turned climate change from liability into a potentially winning political issue in this presidential election."
Salon.com agrees. "Bloomberg's endorsement matters for several reasons. For one thing, it is more evidence that Sandy is succeeding in raising the political profile of climate change, an issue that had unbelievably been ignored in the 2012 race, by both candidates."