2006_12_bloombergcover.jpgThis week's New York cover story is about Mayor Bloomberg's presidential possibilities. It's a great look at how far the Mayor has come from the dog days of 2003 when his approval ratings were in the 20-30 point range and how, somehow, many New Yorkers seem to like Mike.

It’s the Tuesday after Labor Day, and Bloomberg and I are having lunch (though his idea of lunch is coffee and a slice of incinerated toast) at a diner in Tribeca. Bloomberg is dressed in a charcoal suit, a pink pin-striped shirt, and a pale-blue tie patterned with tiny yellow snails. He’s telling me a story about what a fabulous time he had the day before at the West Indian–American Day parade in Brooklyn—but the real subject is the affection, nay the devotion, the city has come to feel for him.

“There was not one boo, not one catcall,” Bloomberg merrily proclaims. “Young people, old people: ‘Bloomberg! Bloomberg!’ ‘Mayor! Mayor!’ ‘Great! Thumbs up!’ ” Quite a change, that is, from three years ago, when his reception at outer-borough parades was uniformly brutal: jeers, extended middle fingers, cigarettes flung at him. For a bracing experience, he says, “close firehouses, raise property taxes, put in a smoking ban—then do a parade in Staten Island.” He smiles. “Today in Staten Island, I get 80 percent of the vote and everybody loves me.”

Sure, he still says he won't run, but with with his resources, he's got people thinking about it for him. And there's a niche for him - writer John Heilemann essentially describes him as a "sane," not "unhinged" Perot! That's a campaign slogan right there: The Sane Perot.

But even though Bloomberg says he wants to finish out four years as mayor and focus his life's work to philanthropy that the rumors of running for president were "helpful": "It gives the mayor a great deal of visibility and a greater ability to influence the debate and get resources for the city."

Of course, there is a wild card factor in the Queens shooting aftermath, but more of the black community do find his openness and empathy, if not all of his actions, refreshing. Rudy Giuliani's poor community relations during his turn as Mayor are one of the many reasons why we think he has less of a chance to run on the Republican ticket in 2008.