After two years of playing coy about his presidential ambitions, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg declared in a newspaper opinion piece Wednesday that he would not run for president as an independent and said he might support the candidate who "takes an independent, nonpartisan approach."
The 66-year-old billionaire businessman, who aides had said was prepared to spend $1 billion on his own independent campaign, wrote in a piece published on the New York Times website Wednesday night that he would be working to "steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance."
"In every city I have visited -- from Baltimore to New Orleans to Seattle -- the message of an independent approach has resonated strongly, and so has the need for a new urban agenda," Bloomberg wrote. "More than 65% of Americans now live in urban areas -- our nation's economic engines. But you would never know that listening to the presidential candidates.
"At a time when our national economy is sputtering, to say the least, what are we doing to fuel job growth in our cities, and to revive cities that have never fully recovered from the manufacturing losses of recent decades? More of the same won't do, on the economy or any other issue," Bloomberg wrote. "We need innovative ideas, bold action and courageous leadership. That's not just empty rhetoric, and the idea that we have the ability to solve our toughest problems isn't some pie-in-the-sky dream."
Bloomberg, who has almost two years left in his second term at City Hall, had publicly denied any interest in running for president since one of his political advisors first planted the seed more than two years ago.
But his denials grew weaker in recent months as aides and supporters quietly began laying the groundwork for a third-party campaign.
Among his biggest obstacles was getting on the ballot, a process that varies significantly from state to state and would have required him to obtain hundreds of thousands of signatures according to a timetable on which the first key date is March 5.