New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) endorsed President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBill Maher, Isiah Thomas score over the NFL's playing of 'Black national anthem' Democrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE for reelection on Thursday, citing his stance on climate change.
"Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be — given this week’s devastation — should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action," Bloomberg wrote in his endorsement, which was published on Bloomberg News's website under the title "A Vote for a President to Lead on Climate Change."
The announcement, which hit five days before the election, came as a surprise. Bloomberg has been critical of both Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney, telling the New York Times a few weeks ago of both men: "Their economic plans are not real."
The New York City mayor did not make an endorsement in the 2008 presidential race. His last presidential endorsement was in 2004 when he backed then-President George W. Bush's reelection. A longtime Democrat, Bloomberg switched parties before running for mayor in 2001 and was a Republican when he endorsed Bush in 2004. He became an Independent in 2007.
Both Obama and Romney had courted him this cycle.
Bloomberg wrote that Hurricane Sandy brought the race into "sharp relief," indicating the devastating storm — and Obama's handling of it — compelled him to endorse the incumbent. Obama also won praise from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for his response to the storm, raising the possibility it could be a major factor when voters go to the polls on Tuesday.
Bloomberg also praised Obama for taking major steps on carbon pollution reduction.
"We need leadership from the White House — and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year. "
The New York mayor notes that Romney also has taken steps to reduce climate change during his time as governor of Massachusetts.
"But since then, he has reversed course, abandoning the very cap-and-trade program he once supported. This issue is too important," Bloomberg argues. "We need determined leadership at the national level to move the nation and the world forward."
He went on, however, to criticize the GOP nominee for changing his stances on issues like illegal guns, healthcare and abortion rights.
"I believe Mitt Romney is a good and decent man, and he would bring valuable business experience to the Oval Office. He understands that America was built on the promise of equal opportunity, not equal results. In the past he has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts."
Bloomberg also praises Obama for his Race to the Top education program, his move to support same-sex marriage, his position on abortion, and his healthcare reform law which, the mayor writes, "for all its flaws — will provide insurance coverage to people who need it most and save lives."
The endorsement concludes with Bloomberg saying that Obama is capable of overcoming partisan gridlock and passing bipartisan legislation.
"Presidents Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonVirginia governor's race enters new phase as early voting begins Business coalition aims to provide jobs to Afghan refugees Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader MORE and Ronald Reagan both found success while their parties were out of power in Congress — and President Obama can, too," Bloomberg ends the endorsement saying. "If he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates, he can fulfill the hope he inspired four years ago and lead our country toward a better future for my children and yours. And that’s why I will be voting for him."
Obama said he was "honored" to have Bloomberg's support.
"I deeply respect him for his leadership in business, philanthropy and government, and appreciate the extraordinary job he's doing right now, leading New York City through these difficult days," he said in a statement.
He added: "While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time — that the key to a strong economy is investing in the skills and education of our people, that immigration reform is essential to an open and dynamic democracy, and that climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it."
Bloomberg's endorsement came a few weeks after he announced the formation of a new super-PAC that would support both Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2012 election. Although Bloomberg endorsed Obama, in announcing his super-PAC, the New York mayor said the new organization would focus on congressional, state and local races.
— Russell Berman contributed.
— This story was updated at 3:30 p.m.