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Bloomberg says Sestak ‘has what it takes’

Bloomberg says Sestak ‘has what it takes’

PHILADELPHIA—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Democrat Joe Sestak for Senate here Tuesday, calling the second-term congressman and former Navy Admiral a pragmatic leader who “has what it takes to represent the best interests of the people of this state.”

Bloomberg’s endorsement, during a morning news conference outside a revitalized shopping center about two miles north of City Hall, came as the self-styled independent is traversing the country to endorse an ideologically eclectic mix of political candidates. A billionaire businessman, three-term mayor and Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent, Bloomberg is seen as building his own centrist credentials toward a possible presidential run. In turn, he gave Sestak a late-summer boost, helping advance the Democratic nominee’s narrative argument that, despite an almost uniformly liberal voting record, he is simply a non-ideological problem solver.

“A vote for Joe is a vote for leadership,” Bloomberg said, “a vote for Joe is a vote for independence, and a vote for Joe is a vote for the results that our nation so desperately needs.”

Sestak returned the praise, saying “I would like to serve in the same businesslike, pragmatic approach.

Bloomberg’s visit also came as he is mounting a steely defense of plans to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center a couple blocks from where the Twin Towers once said—a project that, despite local zoning approval and Constitutional protection, has become embroiled in political controversy. Pressed by reporters, Sestak stopped short of endorsing the specific project—but just barely.

“I strongly believe in the Constitutional right to freedom of religion,” he said, “the separation of church and state, and in those rights being equally applied to everyone.

“Let’s stop playing politics with these issues,” he added.

Challenged by Robert Sklaroff, an outspoken conservative activist prominent in local circles, as to how he could support the project considering past statements by the Imam behind it—the Imam has called American “an accessory to the crime” of 9/11—Bloomberg shot back: “I would suggest that you go straight to the library and get a copy of the Bill of Rights.”

The two politicians hardly agree on a plethora of policy issues, something both of them readily conceded. Bloomberg and Sestak only met for the first time shortly before they arrived together for the news conference, Sestak said.

And reporters did their best to expose ideological daylight between the two, on issues varying from health care and financial reform to foreign policy. Bloomberg, for example, declined to weigh in on Sestak’s contention that the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall financial regulatory framework paved way for the more recent financial crisis. And while Sestak has made opposing Wall Street interests a rallying cry for his campaign, Bloomberg sounded a note of defense for his friends in Lower Manhattan.

“We need Wall Street and we need Main Streets,” Bloomberg said. “We need everyone to come together. … I don’t agree or disagree entirely with anyone.”

Bloomberg spotlighted immigration reform and gun control as two issues on which he agrees with Sestak.

“I don’t value his endorsement because I agree with all his positions,” Sestak said. “I’m pleased to be endorsed by someone who speaks what he believes.”

In a statement, Toomey campaign spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said “an endorsement from a New York City mayor and a Yankees fan can’t hide the fact” that Sestak is in lockstep with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“The only time Joe Sestak has stood up to his own Party is when he thought they weren’t spending enough,” Soloveichik said. “In contrast, Pat Toomey stood up to Republicans and Democrats when he thought they were spending too much money.”

See video of Bloomberg’s endorsement below.

August 17, 2010 at 11:30 am

--Dan Hirschhorn

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comments [11] | post a comment

  1. David Diano

    Aug 17th, 2010

    Sestak returned the praise, saying “I would like to serve in the same businesslike, pragmatic approach.

    So, does that mean Joe will switch to a Republican, then to an Independent, with aspirations for the White House? :-)

    Bloomberg and Sestak only met for the first time shortly before they arrived together for the news conference, Sestak said.
    Then how can Bloomberg really “endorse” Sestak? Joe spent the Primary disdaining endorsements, but managed to get a few from people he knew like his buddy Eric “Tickle-Me” Massa. What is the value of an endorsement from Bloomberg who really doesn’t know Joe? Did Sestak promise him support in a Presidential bid or to vote for something for NYC?
    If Bloomberg and Sestak had some prior relationship, the endorsement would make more sense.

  2. heh

    Aug 17th, 2010

    heh. bloomberg is going to be a lead weight for Sestak.

  3. Lance Chang

    Aug 17th, 2010

    Having NYC Mayor Bloomberg come into Philly for an endorsement event makes absolutely no sense nor does this have any politcal value for the 2 Star Admiral Joe Sestak.

    By bringing Bloomberg (who he hardly knows) into Philly, Sestak has thrown himself into the “Ground Zero Mosque” situation which is a political nightmare for anybody who favors it. Regardless of how you feel about the mosque, this issue has the potential to be very disastrous for Democrats. So why would anybody think its a good idea to stand with Bloomberg of all people at this point in time?

    Its funny how Joe has no problem standing with Bloomberg but he avoids standing with Obama like its the plague.

    Call me crazy but I think that an endorsement event featuring Philly Mayor Michael Nutter would’ve made much more sense and would’ve been much less controversial for the 2 Star Admiral Joe Sestak. But I wonder if Sestak is still holding a grudge against Mayor Nutter because he endorsed Arlen Specter in the primary?

    To be honest Sestak shunning Mayor Nutter is actually insulting on many different levels. Think about it, the endorsement event is in North Philadelphia which happens to be an area that’s mostly populated by African-Americans. So Sestak thinks that its a good idea to bring in the NYC Mayor (who happens to be a Caucasian) as opposed to bringing in the Philly Mayor (who happens to be an African-American). It is just me or is something very wrong with this picture? I won’t claim to be an expert in African-American affairs but it wouldn’t suprise me if this Mayor Bllomberg event didn’t go over to well in that community in Philly.

    Just my 2 cents for the the 2 Star Admirmal.

  4. al

    Aug 17th, 2010

    Bloomberg can probably help in Philadelphia good.

    Sestak just needs to repeat that “Toomay wants to make the Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy PERMANENT.”

    That message works in most of PA – to show that Toomey is just supporting the Wealthiest.

  5. bill healy

    Aug 17th, 2010

    Lots of people who work in N.Y. live in N.E. Pa. they vote here too.

  6. David Diano

    Aug 17th, 2010

    It sounds like Sestak is trying to use Bloomberg to make inroads with Wall Street money crowd that likes Mike. The big question is: what’s in it for Bloomberg?
    Barney Frank endorsed Sestak for Joe’s role as a military prop in repealing DADT. Eric Massa endorsed Sestak to delay his retirement by scandal for a news cycle. What does Bloomberg get?

  7. Jon Geeting

    Aug 18th, 2010

    It’s telling that even though Wall Street is obviously a major constituency for Bloomberg, he’s explicitly not backing the guy who most recently worked a bagman for Wall Street’s right wing political donors. Even Bloomberg thinks Toomey’s plan to give Wall Street everything they ask for is too crazy. More thoughts on this here:

  8. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Aug 18th, 2010

    Remember, also, that I inquired why Sestak hasn’t rebuked CAIR for NOT having rebuked terrorist Hamas/Hezbollah.

    Rather than follow the pattern of replying after Bloomberg had spoken, the Press Conference {such as it was} ended abruptly with a request for cheese-steaks.

    I asked these focused questions because these two politicians should WANT to clarify their positions; I guess I was incorrect….

  9. Lance Chang

    Aug 18th, 2010

    I heard that there were lots of booing Sestak and Bloomberg at this event.

  10. Matt M.

    Aug 18th, 2010

    I’m doubtful that the mayor could have picked Sestak out of a lineup five minutes before he endorsed him. That being said, Sestak may potentially be a good political ally for someone like Bloomberg a few years down the line, so it makes sense for him to throw a thumbs-up.

    That being said, I doubt PA voters, few of whom overall probably know much or even care much about the mayor of New York’s political preferences, will give this much thought.

  11. […] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to Philadelphia’s Sullivan Progress Plaza to endorse Rep. Joe Sestak (D PA-7) in his Senate race against Former Congressman Pat Toomey (R […]

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