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Mike Bloomberg Watch: Now he's meeting with Obama

December 1, 2007 | 11:24 am

You know the New Yorker who's mixed up in all that presidential talk?

Not the Democratic one who always cheered for the Cubs before she always cheered for the Yankees. And not the Republican one who always cheers for the Yankees unless they lose in the playoffs when he always cheers for any other American League team still playing.

No, not that pair. But the New Yorker who used to be both a Democrat and then a Republican, now calls himself an independent and has enough money to buy his own baseball league. Mike Bloomberg, the current mayor. He's the one who keeps saying he has no intention of running for president and then goes on to talk about what kind of president America needs and the terrible gridlock he sees in Washington but not in New York where he often takes the subway, which he could also buy his own of.

Let's be honest. The businessman loves to be seen toying with the idea of an independent run for the White House. He knows how to play the media: the more he denies interest, the more they ask him about it in case there's a nuanced change. It's their job to look for a story. And Mike is just playing and holding the spotlight while he does.

Still, an independent candidacy would save all the expense and hassle and talk of....

these annoying primary campaigns that are so secondary to the general election process. Not to mention those boring party conventions. Big Mike--but don't take that literally--can wait until, say, late winter to see what he thinks of the nominees-designate and then, who knows, maybe buy his way onto state ballots all over the place, if he wants, which he says he doesn't.

He could really throw a shock into this stagnant, self-absorbed political hot tub of two parties who place maneuvering for momentary advantage so far ahead of actually delivering a workable political system that compromises and delivers results rather than repetitive rhetorical rangefire. Yes, that's what ole Ross Perot was talking about 15 years ago and all he ended up doing was launching the Clinton dynasty.

So what's Mike really up to? He says he has every intention of completing his term as mayor of New York. And then he quotes awfully quickly for someone who's supposedly enjoying his current job precisely how many days are left in his second term of office in City Hall.

The other day he shared a meal with about-to-be-former senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraskan who used to be rather Republican but now also doesn't like a lot of what he sees in Washington political circles. Let's see, a New Yorker with business and political success who needs no fundraisers and a Midwestern ex-senator who's something of an outspoken maverick. Of course, Nebraska's not as important politically as, say, Ohio, but it has a worse university football team.

Then Friday sly Bloomie shows up for breakfast with someone named Barack Obama. The announcement of the little surprise get-together came at 3 a.m., not an hour designed to produce maximum news coverage. But thanks to modern technology no news person who hears a Blackberry at 3 a.m. goes back to sleep without looking.

Which, of course, Mike and his press people know.

Which produced quite a press gaggle a few hours later outside The Luncheonette on 50th Street between Third and Lexington. According to eyewitnesses, the two politicians had a couple of laughs and an earnest 40-minute conversation over eggs, bacon and coffee for the mayor and tea for the senator. (Will that hurt him with the Starbuck's crowd?) And, boy, did the mayor lay the salt on his eggs!

According to Obama spokesman Bill Burton, "They have a shared belief there is too much game-playing in Washington and not enough problem-solving." The pair reportedly also discussed the economy, education and homeland security.

Burton added it was the mayor who reached out to the Illinois senator for the meeting, which Bloomberg spokesmen said he intends to have with numerous candidates in coming months in order to press issues of importance to him. No word on who else Bloomberg intends to meet with, say, an ex-mayor from his own city or a current senator from his own state, who, by the way, didn't endorse Bloomberg when he ran as a Republican.

Speaking of endorsements, aides for both men wouldn't.

But spectators did notice that the billionaire mayor allowed the senator to pick up the $11 check (what, did these guys share an egg for 11 bucks in New York City?).

Oh, and this Democratic presidential candidate left the waitress a tip -- $10.

--Andrew Malcolm

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