Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Chicago and Boston on Tuesday, talking national issues and angling to get both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to talk about two of his pet causes, immigration and gun control. The mayor stressed that immigrants are essential to the country's economic recovery. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a pass at running for president this year and is not planning to endorse anyone, but he still wants to have some sway in the 2012 race for the White House.
"I mean, everybody says, 'Influence the dialogue.' I didn't pay a lot to come here today, it's much better than running for president," Bloomberg said at a meeting in Chicago on Tuesday.
The mayor said if November's winner opens up the borders, the economy will resuscitate. He presented a report by a partnership of U.S. mayors and business leaders showing that immigrants started 28 percent of new businesses last year.
Should the presidential candidates address immigration policies more than they already are? What is your reaction to Mayor Bloomberg's comments on immigrants and the economy? Join the conversation on "The Call" at 9 p.m. with NY1's John Schiumo, or email your thoughts.
Bloomberg said there's reason for optimism and pessimism on immigration changes. Both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been more supportive in the past, but Bloomberg claimed they have done "nothing."
Yet that is not quite the case.
After calling for self-deportation of undocumented immigrants, Romney recently said those who served in the military or got advanced degrees should stay.
In June, the president said he would grant two-year work permits for many of those who came to the United States illegally as children. Up to 1.7 million people under the age of 31 can take part in the permitting process beginning this week.
The visa also provides protection from deportation but is not a path toward permanent residency.
Privately, Bloomberg is reported to have said Romney would be a better president. But Tuesday, it appeared Bloomberg thought Obama's advantage as an incumbent will overpower the Republican's insurgent campaign.
While Obama came in for some criticism, the mayor seemed to save his toughest words for the former Massachusetts governor, who has warned about a porous border.
"When Romney keeps talking about border security, I can't figure out what border he's talking about. Maybe it's the Canadian border," Bloomberg said.
The mayor also said the pair are missing from the gun control debate, which is again in the spotlight after a raft of shootings across the nation and in New York City.
The mayor, a political independent, appeared with Bill Daley, Obama's former chief-of-staff.
Neither campaign responded for comment on Bloomberg's remarks.