Oct. 31, 2012: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to traders at the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Bloomberg backed President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney on Thursday, saying the president will bring leadership critically needed to fight climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.AP
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is endorsing President Obama for re-election, citing agenda items that Obama has touted but failed to make legislative progress on: climate change.
Bloomberg's announcement comes as New York City and much of the East Coast work to rebound after the devastating blow dealt by Hurricane Sandy, a storm that Bloomberg said may be an example of the havoc wreaked by man-made climate change.
"The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast -- in lost lives, lost homes and lost business -- brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief," Bloomberg said Thursday in an opinion article he wrote for Bloomberg.com.
"Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be -- given this week’s devastation -- should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action."
Obama set climate change legislation as one of his goals on the campaign trail in 2008, but the legislative measures he proposed, the so-called cap-and trade plan, never made it through Congress.
Bloomberg, while commending Mitt Romney for his work on the issue as Massachusetts governor, said he was concerned that Romney has since "reversed course" on that and other issues.
"If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing," Bloomberg wrote.
Obama issued a statement welcoming the endorsement and pledging to continue to stand with New York in its time of need.
"While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time -- that the key to a strong economy is investing in the skills and education of our people, 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," Obama said.
The mayor, however, didn't shy from criticizing Obama.
"As president, he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists, which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction," Bloomberg said. "And rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it."
Even so, the mayor praised Obama for "some important victories on issues that will help define our future."
He cited Obama's record on education, gay marriage and climate change, saying Obama "has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks."
Both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had eagerly sought the nod from Bloomberg, an independent and former Republican who didn't endorse a presidential candidate in 2008.
Bloomberg endorsed Republican President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.