In a surprise endorsement, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that he will vote for President Barack Obama in next Tuesday's election because "we need leadership" from the White House on climate change.
Mr Bloomberg's city was swamped by a wall of water from the hurricane which killed 32 New Yorkers and caused an estimated $20 billion in damage on Monday night. In his endorsement yesterday, he said that climate change may have contributed to the megastorm, and praised Obama for taking "major steps" in his first term to reduce carbon consumption in America.
In an op-ed for Bloomberg News, which he founded, the mayor said he would spurn the Republican nominee Mitt Romney because of his policy flip flops on a range of issues, including climate change, immigration and abortion rights, guns and health care. He said that the issue of a woman's right to choose, at a time when the Republican party has renewed a push to return to the Supreme Court on abortion, "weighed heavily" in his choice.
The endorsement of Mr Bloomberg, a political independent in his third term as mayor, is a bitter blow for Mr Romney, whose party includes a majority of climate change deniers. Mr Bloomberg's op-ed, in which he described the former Massachusetts governor as "a good and decent man" who would bring "valuable experience to the Oval Office", contained a devastating critique of the former Massachusetts governor.
"In the past he has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts," he wrote.
Mr Bloomberg said that he would be thinking of his two daughters as he steps into the voting booth and that he picked Mr Obama because he shared his vision for America, and had a better chance of building the trust of moderates in order to end the gridlock in Congress and move the country forward.
He described the stark differences between the candidates in his op-ed. Mr Obama believed in protecting a woman's right to choose, while Mr Romney does not. Mr Obama advocated gay marriage, while Mr Romney does not. "I want our president to be on the right side of history" on that issue, he said. Mr Obama sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet, while Mr Romney does not. "I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics," Bloomberg wrote.
The mayor's endorsement, and Mr Obama's cooperation this week with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, have provided a rare show of bipartisanship which American voters say they value and which has been in short supply for the past four years in Washington.
Although the announcement dominated news around the country last night, it is not expected to have a major influence on voters in the dozen swing states which will decide the election next week. However by identifying Mr Romney's policy flip flops as the main reason for rejecting his candidacy, Mr Bloomberg has put his finger on the same problem identified by former Secretary of State Colin Powell as his main reason for withholding support from Mr Romney, a fellow Republican.
And Mr Christie's fulsome praise of Mr Obama could be an indication that senior Republicans no longer believe Mr Romney can win next week. Mr Christie is a possible future Republican presidential contender.
Responding to Mr Bloomberg's decision, Mr Obama said that the two agreed that "whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or independents, there is only one way to solve these challenges and move forward as a nation - together."
Mr Obama, who said he was "honoured" to receive the endorsement, added: "while we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time." These were the need to invest in the skills and education of Americans to boost the economy, "that immigration reform is essential to an open and dynamic democracy, and that climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it."Reuse content