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Volume 77, Number 18 | October 3 - 9, 2007

Villager photo by Lorcan Otway

Mayor Bloomberg was interviewed by Tom Brokaw last Wednesday night at The Cooper Union, above. Before the event, Suzannah B. Troy and others confronted Brokaw, right.

Bloomberg Great Hall appearance keeps ’em guessing

By Gerard Flynn and Lorcan Otway

Comments made by Tom Brokaw following his interview with Mike Bloomberg at The Cooper Union last week may cast doubt on the billionaire mayor’s claims that he has no intention of running for president.

“Of course he is being evasive,” the veteran news anchor said, referring to the mayor’s responses to questions on healthcare, the Iraq war and increasing speculation on Bloomberg’s presidential aspirations. 

“He is answering only that part of the question he wished you asked,” Brokaw said before the mayor had departed from the Great Hall, where in 1860, a presidential candidate named Abraham Lincoln made a landmark speech.

Bloomberg’s attendance at the “Cooper Union Dialogue Series: A Lincoln-Inspired Event” last Wednesday heightened speculation that he may throw his hat into the ring as an independent.

Pressed by Brokaw if he was “absolutely ruling out” a run for the Oval Office brought mayoral mumblings about his priority at the moment being a then-still-possible Yankees-Mets showdown in the World Series.

“The door has not been closed,” Brokaw replied. 

The Cooper Union series has already hosted John Edwards and Newt Gingrich, who last week announced he will not be running run for president.

During the evening, Bloomberg urged greater cooperation between the United States and the rest of the world on military issues and expressed his admiration for Europe’s socialized healthcare system.

Despite the mayor’s repeated denials, Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant, refuses to rule out the prospect of a Bloomberg bid in 2008. 

“At this time it is about 50/50,” he said, adding that who the mayor’s opponents are may be the final determination on the matter.

“If Giuliani is the Republican nominee, it does not help” Bloomberg decide to run, he said.

In his favor, the consultant said, Bloomberg has something the other candidates don’t: a war chest of around $500 million for a blitz of TV and radio ads in a short period of time should he enter the race, as he did in his mayoral bids.

“The fact that he can fund at any level gives him an edge others might have under any circumstances. No one is able to compete at that financial level,” Sheinkopf said.

In northern England on Monday, during a swing through Europe, Bloomberg responded to more press reports on his potential presidential candidacy by blaming the media for whipping up the story.

Asked if he had ever toyed with the idea, Bloomberg told reporters in England that he had not.

“The newspapers toyed with that,” he said. “I’m on record as always saying I was not a candidate for higher, any other office.”

On the street outside The Cooper Union’s Foundation Building on the night of the Brokaw interview, Suzannah B. Troy, an East Village resident, demonstrated against New York University’s development of “mega-dorms” and Cooper Union’s construction of new buildings. She confronted Brokaw, who paused a moment to listen to them before entering the building.

Cooper Union students sitting in front of the building pointed and laughed at Troy, which led to an angry debate. Joining in on Troy’s side was bookseller Monte Schapiro, also of the East Village.

“You have to understand our anger. Our community is being destroyed. We are being forced out,” Schapiro said.

“It’s called progress,” a Cooper Union engineering student said and walked away.

The art students were more sympathetic. One of them, Erin, explained that they were against Cooper Union’s new engineering building, currently being built on Cooper Square, for several reasons, including that it wasn’t designed by Cooper Union students and is not contextual with the neighborhood. However, the project is needed for Cooper Union to survive, she said.

“It is wrong to lump us in with N.Y.U.,” she said. “They are intent on greater profit, while Cooper Union needs to raise money to keep it free to the students, half of whom are from New York.”

“The neighborhood is already lost,” Schapiro said fatalistically. “It is a few of us trying not to be pushed out.”

The evening ended with Troy and the students arguing over details of her signage and rhetoric.

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