Friday, January 18, 2008


Bloomberg meets with ballot expert
AP Newsbreak: Bloomberg Meets With Perot Ballot Access Expert
Jan 18, 2008 16:30 EST

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg met Friday with the ballot access expert and campaign manager for H. Ross Perot's third-party presidential bid, a sign of the multibillionaire's seriousness about a possible independent run.
Bloomberg met privately with Clay Mulford, who is well-versed in third-party ballot access and served as campaign manager for Perot, according to an individual close to the mayor. Perot sought the presidency in 1992 and 1996. The lunch meeting with Mulford comes less than two months before Bloomberg would be able to start gathering signatures to get on the ballot and meet Texas' early deadline.

If Bloomberg wants a chance at winning the state's large slice of electoral votes — 34 — he would need to collect about 74,100 signatures by May 12, and cannot begin circulating petitions here until March 5. Not only does he have a short window to petition, the signatures need to be from Texas residents who did not vote in a party primary.

Earlier Friday, during a news conference, Bloomberg was asked about the significance of being in Texas, with its early ballot deadline. He seemed irritated with the question, having said only a moment earlier that he is "not a candidate" despite all the calls for him to run.
"I just said, I'm not a candidate — it couldn't be clearer," he said. "Which of the words do you not understand? People have urged me to do it but I'm not a candidate."

Despite his public denials, Bloomberg has been consulting with people such as Mulford and is conducting a sophisticated analysis of voter data in all 50 states to better understand his chances as a third-party candidate. Aides have said he would delay a decision until after the major parties produce clear front-runners.
Making a move in Texas is not easy. Ballot access is notoriously difficult in the state, according to independent political strategist Dean Barkley, who managed Kinky Friedman's independent gubernatorial campaign here in 2006.

"Texas is your biggest problem, and it starts on March 5, so if he's going to do it, he's going to have to start fairly soon organizing the effort," Barkley said.
Friedman's campaign spent six months organizing for their petition drive, he said.
Mulford, who was formerly a partner with the law firm Jones Day, was general counsel and campaign manager for Perot's 1992 bid and in 1996 was general counsel to the Reform Party and Perot's campaign.

Earlier in the day, Bloomberg appeared at an Austin hospital to talk health care with Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France champion cyclist. Armstrong is an emerging political power in Texas, and any hint that he's supporting Bloomberg would lend credence to the mayor's prospective campaign and signature-gathering efforts.
Armstrong was a key figure in the state getting a large cancer-research bond issue passed and he has dabbled in national politics with his televised cancer forums for presidential candidates. He might even make a good running mate for Bloomberg; the mayor on Friday suggested Armstrong has what it takes to lead.

"He's exactly the kind of person we need," Bloomberg said.
Armstrong spoke just as warmly about the mayor.
"I'm sure there's a lot of questions about whether he's in or not in, but at the end of the day, he's representing an independent agenda and the best interests of the people," Armstrong said.
The event at Brackenridge Hospital focused on a national plan to deal with cancer. Also attending was former surgeon general Richard Carmona, who leads a coalition of health groups trying to get presidential candidates to talk about chronic health issues.

Carmona, who served from 2002 to 2006 under President Bush, also leads the Surgeons General Collective, an independent body composed of previous U.S. surgeons general. On Friday, he said the group — at Armstrong's request — will develop a call to action focused on preventing and surviving cancer.
"The need and urgency to make cancer prevention and survivorship a national priority should be clear to all of us, but the level of action and progress is not nearly what it should be," Carmona said.

Carmona has not said which candidate he favors in the 2008 presidential race. He has said the coalition, The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, also will not make an endorsement.
He did say that Bloomberg is "setting an example, really, for the rest of the nation."
Bloomberg, a billionaire philanthropist who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to public health causes, said health issues are sadly lacking national leadership.

His City Hall administration has focused more on personal behavior as its approach to public health policy; during his first term he banned smoking citywide, and recently, the city outlawed trans-fats and created the official New York City condom to promote safer sexual behavior.
"If we could get people to stop smoking and exercise and to eat healthy, we would reduce the medical costs in this country quite significantly," he said, "and we could have a more intelligent discussion about how we provide care, which is fast outstripping our ability to pay for it."
Bloomberg's trip was to continue Saturday in California, where he was to appear with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at an event on infrastructure.