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Old 06-19-2007, 03:00 PM
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Default U.S. Is ‘Really in Trouble,’ Says Bloomberg

U.S. Is ‘Really in Trouble,’ Says Bloomberg

Published: June 19, 2007

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 18 — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, sounding every inch the presidential candidate he insists he is not, brought his message of pragmatic, nonpartisan leadership to California on Monday, telling a crowd of Google employees that the nation was “really in trouble.”

In unusually stark terms, Mr. Bloomberg expressed his frustration with the state of the nation, touching on campaign-style issues like the war in Iraq, immigration, education, health care and crime before a crowd of more than 1,000 employees at the Google campus here.

“Whoever out of those 20 becomes president I think has to do something about a country that I think is really in trouble,” Mr. Bloomberg said, referring to the current crop of candidates. “There’s the war, there is our relationships around the world.”

“Our reputation has been hurt very badly in the last few years,” he continued, criticizing what he called a “go-it-alone mentality” in an increasingly interconnected world.

The trip west comes as speculation about Mr. Bloomberg’s presidential ambitions has intensified, with his increasing travels around the country to speak about national issues, and with aides promoting the idea behind the scenes.

Mr. Bloomberg made his comments as a guest speaker at Google, technically as part of their series of authors, ostensibly because of his autobiography, “Bloomberg by Bloomberg,” which was published in 1997. But the notion of his making a third-party run at the White House was never far from the surface.

Indeed, in introducing Mr. Bloomberg, Alan Davidson, Google’s senior policy counsel, said, to laughter, that the hourlong discussion was not part of the candidates’ series, which has already brought former Senator John Edwards, Gov. Bill Richardson and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain to the campus.

Asked about the subject, Mr. Bloomberg said that he was not a candidate for president and intended to finish out his term, which lasts through 2009, and then become a full-time philanthropist. Nonetheless, he declined to say definitively that he would not run, calling a question from a reporter asking him if he would rule out a candidacy too “Shermanesque” to answer.

In his remarks, he sounded much like a candidate for national office. He returned to a pet theme, criticizing the federal government for its immigration policies and what he sees as insufficient attention to rising costs of Social Security and health care.

Mr. Bloomberg also took a swipe at the presidential candidates of both parties, saying they were not offering serious ideas about improving public education or lowering street crime.

Arguing that people have a much greater chance of being killed by street crime than by a terror attack, he said: “Yet every press conference, they all beat their chests and say, ‘I can protect this country better from terrorism.’ Well, what about protecting them out in the streets every day?”

Mr. Bloomberg began his day in San Francisco. urging members of the Commonwealth Club, a public affairs group, to exert pressure on Congress to drop an amendment from its spending bill this year that limits the way the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives releases information about the source of illegal guns.

He ended the day in Los Angeles, where he assailed what he called the “swamp of dysfunction” in Washington. His remarks came in a speech opening a two-day conference for which Mr. Bloomberg is a co-host with the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa.


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