New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a surprise last-minute endorsement of President Obama on Thursday, saying his decision came after reflecting on Hurricane Sandy and the threat of man-made climate change.
Bloomberg, one of a handful of political independents with a national profile, had rebuffed overtures from the campaigns of both Obama and Republican Mitt Romney and had refused to endorse either candidate.
But in an op-ed for his eponymous news service, Bloomberg writes that Hurricane Sandy, which killed dozens of New Yorkers and ravaged the city, “brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.” Many scientists believe the uptick in extreme weather events in recent years is a product of man-made climate change.
Bloomberg says he considers the president’s first term “disappointing” but praises his record of raising fuel-efficiency standards and using mercury emissions standards to crack down on dirty coal plants.
He also praises Romney’s climate record as governor of Massachusetts, but writes that the Republican challenger has run too far away from that position, aand from others on health care and abortion rights.
Of the two candidates, the New York mayor writes, "One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics."
“While we may not agree on every issue,” Obama said in a statement on the endorsement, “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.”
Just as word of the Bloomberg endorsement was spreading, Romney was confronted by a climate-change heckler at a rally in Doswell, Va. He was thanking the audience for their donations to hurricane victimes when the man yelled, "What about climate? That's what caused this monster storm." The man held a sign that read "End Climate Silence," which was ripped from his hands by the crowd as he was escorted out of the building.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney helped create a regional cap-and-trade program to curb carbon emissions, but then refused to sign it at the last minute. He told a town hall audience in June of 2011 that he believed the world was getting warmer and that humans are contributing to the warming, but a few months later he told another audience that "my view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us."
Sarah Huisenga contributed.