Mayor Mike Bloomberg has supported his fair share of Republicans. He backed some after he rode the GOP line into the Mayoralty and needed to return the favor. He spoke on President Bush's behalf when NYC was the host of the '04 Republican Convention. More recently, he helped support the small handful of Republican State Senators who broke with the party line to help pass marriage equality in New York State.
He has also backed a good number of Democrats. Over the years, before entering into elected office, he was a Democrat. As recently as the 2010 midterms, he selected Democrats he felt embodied a centrist third way.
This moderate approach that defies partisan labels (no accident he has been closely associated with the No Labels movement) could have made him sympathetic to another candidate who had walked a thin, center line: Governor Mitt Romney. Romney had told the Log Cabin Republicans he'd be better for gay rights than Ted Kennedy, just as Bloomberg may have been more central to this state's marriage battle than out Speaker Christine Quinn.
Romney's wife has supported Planned Parenthood - just as Bloomberg did after the threat of losing the Susan G. Komen Foundation support. Romney mixed conservative and progressive ideas to pass sweeping healthcare reform in Massachusetts, just as Bloomberg has built support for public health initiatives from both sides of the aisle.
However, Mayor Bloomberg did not meet Governor Romney this week. He met with Candidate Romney - a man who has vilified homosexuality, distanced himself from reproductive rights and disavowed his own approach to reforming healthcare. The Mayor's choice to avoid strict party ideology has been a mark of independence; the former Governor's careening across the spectrum has been a sign of desperate waffling. The Mayor has changed parties but has not really wavered on convictions. The former Governor has traded every conviction in the aim to convince a party of his loyalty.
So I can't imagine the meeting was that compelling.
Maybe Bloomberg could have taught Romney a few things about being a business executive running for executive office. He could have asked him why his wealth hasn't insulated his independence allowing him to buck party demands. He could have told him that the most compelling business stories talk about investment and growth, not reductions and reversals. He could have reminded him that good executives take credit and blame.
But Bloomberg probably wasn't that interested in coaching the Romney campaign. Romney's just not his kind of Republican…or his kind of leader.
There are those that wish Bloomberg himself would run, as Tom Friedman keeps advocating in the New York Times, to bring his business experience, independence and party-defiant approach to the campaign trail if not the White House. Friedman and others in the Bloomberg cheerleading squad don't form the same fan club for Romney. If Romney wants to win them over, he's not going to get there by courting Bloomberg. He's going to get there when he shakes his magic etch-a-sketch and stops courting the severely conservative fringe.