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By Daniel Trotta
NEW YORK, Aug 21 (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he cannot win the U.S. presidency and won’t run, the strongest statement to date about his intentions for the 2008 presidential race.
Bloomberg previously had said he had no plans to run, which failed to quiet speculation that he was planning an independent bid for the White House.
In an interview with Dan Rather of HDNet television to be aired on Tuesday, Bloomberg was asked if he was running and if he was going to run for president. He answered “no” to both questions.
He refused to categorically rule out any future run, then added: “The answer is ‘no.’ ... If somebody asks me where I stand, I tell them. And that’s not a way to get elected generally. Nobody’s going to elect me president of the United States.”
HDNet provided a partial transcript of the interview, in which the self-made billionaire also ruled out becoming a vice-presidential candidate and played down his chances of becoming Treasury secretary.
Bloomberg, 65, was a longtime Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to run for New York mayor in 2001. He was re-elected in 2005, and then in June of this year announced he had left the Republican Party to become an independent.
Even before leaving the Republicans, he had taken strong stands against illegal guns and in favor of liberal immigration policies that distanced him from the conservative party. He also positioned himself as environmentally friendly.
Speculation that Bloomberg might run was fueled in part because he could afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fund such a campaign and also because of his extensive travel across the country to promote his agenda.
The mayor has portrayed himself as above ideology who has stressed competence and accountability on his mayoral staff, to which he delegates significant authority.
Bloomberg told Rather he would like to “be able to influence the dialogue” but not as vice president.
“I have no interest in doing that,” he said of the No. 2 job.
Rather then asked him about becoming Treasury secretary.
“Nobody is going to delegate a lot of power to a secretary that they can’t control. And I don’t think that anybody would ask me to do it. I’d be happy to provide advice if anybody asked me, no matter who the president is,” Bloomberg said.