Independents Day

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

There are plenty of reasons for Hollywood to love Michael Bloomberg. He’s made it much easier to shoot a film in Manhattan. He’s a media-bred media mogul, with sophisticated instincts on social issues and the gravitas to stand up to President Bush on global warming and gun control. He lacks the charisma of Arnold Schwarzenegger, with whom he’s been teamed as a steward of nonpartisanship, but he has the P.R. savvy to know that as the never-ending campaign goes on, the best kind of candidate to be is a non-candidate candidate. Just ask Al Gore, Fred Thompson or Arnold himself.

And should he run for president, the bet is that he’ll self-finance his campaign, so courting the industry for cash is out of the equation. That will come as a relief to weary donors, but it also answers the basic question that gets asked of those in the field right now: Are you viable?

The truth is, a Bloomberg candidacy stands to hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans, as the New York mayor would appeal to those in the center, or at least those with serious cases of buyer’s remorse. It’s hard to believe that the major industry backers of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would change sides, but there are plenty of undecideds, many hedging their bets.

Bloomberg’s switch is not exactly great news for the GOP either, thanks in large part to Schwarzenegger. At the USC conference on Tuesday, he vowed to remain a Republican, but not too long after that declared that Bloomberg would be an “excellent” candidate. Schwarzenegger has said he’ll endorse a GOPer, but how will that square when so many in the field are running to the right?

Update: Today, Bloomberg insisted he’s not running, but it didn’t dampen speculation, and he did admit that he’s using all the attention to get the media to focus on certain issues, none of which he felt were being addressed in the current campaign.

Reports the New York Times: “I’m particularly upset that the big issues of the time keep getting pushed to the back and we focus on small things that probably only inside the Beltway are important,” he said. “When you talk to people around this country, they care about who’s going to pay their Social Security, they care about who’s going to pay their medical care, they care about immigration, about our reputation overseas.”

One reporter asked him if there were any circumstances under which he would run, and he responded, “If everyone in the world was dead and I was the only one alive? Sure.”

“Ceasefire!” Postscript: The USC Annenberg conference was called “Ceasefire: Bridging the Political Divide,” and drew a gallery of politicos and journalists from around the country. Among them was Michael Kinsley, late of the Los Angeles Times and former host of CNN’s “Crossfire.” He said that he tried to pitch the cable network on an idea for a show called “Ceasefire,” where the guests don’t debate but try to solve problems.It didn’t go anywhere.  But Lawrence O’Donnell, who appears on MSNBC and “The McLaughlin Group,” says that the cable shout shows aren’t a big factor, despite all of the consternation about them, because of the paltry ratings. “The crazy stuff we engage in every night is utterly harmless and meaningless. No one’s watching.”

Arnold’s Surprise: Schwarzenegger, who was introduced by Gray Davis, the man he ousted from office, called Bloomberg a “loyal Republican.” Well, as far as Arnold knew then. The news broke several hours later that Bloomberg had bolted the GOP.

Lunch Hunch: Just as the news was breaking that Bloomberg was going independent, he was dining with Nancy Reagan, reports the Politico’s Shenanigans blog.

Unity08: All the talk of nonpartisanship, bipartisanship and postpartisanship was music to the ears to the folks at Unity08, the effort by a team of veteran political consultants to field a nonpartisan centrist for the 2008 race. (Sam Waterston is its spokesman). Says co-founder Gerald Rafshoon: “Michael Bloomberg is the perfect independent leader. And, a very competent one who knows how to work across party lines to get results.” If Bloomberg did run, the Unity08 effort could help him get on the ballot in all 50 states.

Harvey and Hillary: Michael Moore says that he donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign for Senate in 2000, but has held off this year. The reasons are apparent in “Sicko,” as he is critical of her alliance with health care industry leaders. Distributor Harvey Weinstein, a Hillary supporter, tried to get him to remove it. Moore tells The Politico: “Every day Harvey would say, ‘Mike! Mike!’ I said, ‘Harvey, remember: [I get] final cut.’ ” But Moore said that Weinstein overall gave him “complete artistic freedom.” Variety’s William Triplett goes to Capitol Hill for Moore’s SRO press conference today.

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