Sandy's political impact: Citing climate change, Bloomberg endorses Obama

Independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long listed global warming as one of his top concerns. He says hurricane Sandy brought the presidential election 'into sharp relief.'

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media during a news conference in New York in this October 26 photo. Bloomberg on Thursday endorsed President Obama for a second term, citing the importance of Obama's record on climate change, particularly in the aftermath of the devastating blow dealt to the New York area by superstorm Sandy.

Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not afraid of supporting political candidates of either party – as long as they support the issues he cares about.

On Thursday, in an on-line opinion piece on Bloomberg.com, the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent said hurricane Sandy had “brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.”

Exactly what does that mean?

In a few words, it means he is endorsing President Obama.

Cynics might say Mayor Bloomberg is thinking of who can get him the most aid to fix up New York after the devastation from the storm. Certainly New York will be asking Mr. Obama or whoever is president to pay a tab that will certainly stretch into the billions and billions of dollars.

But, that’s not what Bloomberg says made him decide to support Obama.

One of Bloomberg’s major concerns as mayor for the past 11 years has been global warming. He’s tried to lower New York City’s carbon footprint by planting more trees, getting more people to ride bikes, and looking for alternative energy supplies for one of the nation’s largest consumers of power.

From Bloomberg’s viewpoint, Obama has marched in the same direction by setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, tightening controls on mercury emissions, and closing the dirtiest coal plants.

There was a time when Republican Mitt Romney was just as concerned about global warming, says Bloomberg. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed into law a regional cap-and-trade plan designed to reduce carbon emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels.

Mr. Romney says he is still worried about the environment. But, as far as Bloomberg is concerned, he has “reversed course,” abandoning the cap-and-trade program he once supported.

Bloomberg says that’s not his only problem with Romney. He disagrees with the governor’s current views on abortion, Obamacare, and marriage equality for lesbians and gay men.

In another example of Bloomberg supporting people who agree with him, he has endorsed Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts in his battle against Democrat Elizabeth Warren because of his stance on gun control. Senator Brown opposes a National Rifle Association bill that would have made it legal for someone who lives in a state with weak gun control laws to carry a concealed weapon in states like New York that have tough laws.

This is not to say Bloomberg is overjoyed with Obama.

“As president he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists, which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction,” he writes. “And, rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it.”

In fact, Bloomberg says he could have voted for the 1994 and 2003 versions of Romney because “I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing.”

Disappointment aside, he’s voting for Obama.

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