Friday, August 18, 2006
Bloomberg asks Democrats to choose New York in '08
From The Morning Grind

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg entered a political hornets' nest Thursday night to pitch Democrats on the idea of holding the party's 2008 presidential convention in the Big Apple.

The one-time Democrat emerged with few stings and the endorsement of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

"We ought to have the Democratic convention in New York," Blagojevich told members of the Democratic National Committee at a cocktail reception hosted by Bloomberg in Millennium Park.

It was the first of three events that will be held by the three cities competing for the convention, as Democrats gather in the Windy City to discuss political strategy and plan the 2008 nominating calendar. Tonight, Minneapolis-St. Paul is hosting a similar event and Denver holds a breakfast Saturday morning. The DNC is expected to make a decision before the year is out.

Last night it was all about "Big Apple" martinis, Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" blaring over the loud speakers and a personal appeal by Bloomberg to Democrats asking them to formally choose their 2008 presidential nominee in his city.

"We won't pick your candidate, but with the energy of our city we will make your candidate better," Bloomberg vowed. "We won't craft your message but with New York as a backdrop we will make your message better. We will get the job done."

Without hesitation, the mayor jokingly acknowledged he no longer has deep roots in the Democratic Party.

"I haven’t been in the company of such a large group of passionate dedicated Democrats since I was one," he said to an eruption of laughter and a few boos.

But what Bloomberg lacks in party identification he sought to make up in personal endorsements by two well-known Democrats -- Blagojevich and actress Lorraine Bracco -- to demonstrate that he still maintains ties to the party.

Bracco, a key character in the HBO mafia drama "The Sopranos", sung Bloomberg's praises, while at the same time declaring that it was time to elect a Democrat as president. In addition to backing New York's bid for the convention, Blagojevich, too, heaped praise on the New York City mayor.

Bloomberg, who is a moderate on social issues, demonstrated his own independence from the Republican Party Thursday night by endorsing Blagojevich for a second term over his Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka.

"He has been a great governor of a great state," Bloomberg said as he introduced Blagojevich. "If I lived in Illinois I would vote for him to be governor."

That was enough for Judith Turk, a DNC member from Illinois, to support New York's bid to host the 2008 convention.

"The governor wants it there, our mayor wants it there and I am all for it," she said.

But not all Democrats think it is a good idea to go to New York in 2008. Montana Democratic Party Chairman Dennis McDonald said the future of his party is in the "Mid-West and in our rural communities," and he suggested Denver would be the appropriate city to hold the convention in 2008.

"We need all the West and the notion that the Democratic Party can be successful winning a few states on each of our coasts is irrational," McDonald said.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/18/2006 10:57:00 AM ET | Permalink
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